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


What do the responses mean for my ESTA application?

There are three responses that you can get once you retrieve your ESTA application, as listed below: Authorisation Pending: This means that your application has been received, but it has not been decided whether to authorize or reject it yet.

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Will strikes and delays affect my ESTA application?

If airlines go on strike and your flight is cancelled, this shouldn’t affect your ESTA application. Once your ESTA is approved it remains valid for 2 years or until your passport expires, this depends on which one comes first.

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Can I fix a mistake on my ESTA application?

Prior to payment, you can amend all the details in your application. Once you have paid and submitted your ESTA application, there are some mistakes that you can amend but the majority will require for you to submit a completely new application.

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