Why was my ESTA application denied?

There could be a number of reasons why your ESTA application was denied. Here are some of the more common reasons why your application might have been given a 'Travel Not Authorised' response:
  • During a previous trip to the United States, you may have overstayed the 90-day period of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), or even a visa.
  • You may not have had the appropriate visa during a previous trip to the U.S. - for example, you may have worked on a tourist visa.
  • The answers that you provided on your ESTA application were inaccurate and the Government was able to deduce this while cross-checking with their systems.
  • The passport you used to apply for ESTA was reported missing or stolen.
  • Previous applications for visa or the Visa Waiver Program were denied.
  • You have a criminal record - even if your answer states otherwise on question 2 of the ESTA application form, the U.S. government can check if you have any criminal history.
  • Someone may have stolen your identity and committed a crime in your name.
  • You may have previously travelled to or have a nationality from the following countries (applies for people who travelled in these countries on or after the 1st of March 2011):
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Sudan
    • Libya
    • Somalia
    • Yemen
  • You have dual citizenship with any of the following countries:
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Sudan
    • Syria
It is important to note that your potential eligibility for the VWP does not mean that you are guaranteed entrance to the U.S., as there are other factors involved in granting people entrance into the U.S., such as immigration or criminal history. Also, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security does not have to give reasons why an ESTA would be declined, which is something to bear in mind.
If your application for ESTA is denied and you are from a VWP country, there is the option to apply for a B1 Business Visa or a B2 Tourist Visa, as well as a number of other visa types that may be relevant for you when you require to travel to the U.S. for their purposes. There is also a combination for both purposes which is a B1/2 Visa.

Related FAQs


I forgot my Group Identification number. How can I log in to check my status?

If you do not remember your group identification number, there are a couple of ways you can retrieve the number. One option is to get in touch with us to retrieve your group identification number here.

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Do I need any other documents apart from ESTA?

Yes, you require your passport to travel to the US as well as your ESTA asthe authorisation is centred around your passport number. This must be an electronicpassport (ePassport) with a digital chip containing biometric information about thepassport owner and that also has a machine readable zone on the biographic page.

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Do I need to apply for an ESTA application if my flight passes through U.S. airspace?

No. As long as the plane you are on is not landing in any continental United States territory you do not require any ESTA authorisation (or visa) as you won’t be passing through U.S. customs and immigration or setting foot on U.S. soil.

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