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


When should I apply for ESTA?

You can apply for ESTA any time you like but the U.S. government generally recommends people to apply for ESTA 72 hours before their trip. Even though an ESTA can take just minutes or even seconds to be approved, there are some applications that can take the full 72 hours to process.

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What if my information has changed since applying for ESTA?

You might be able to edit the information on your ESTA form depending on what the change is and also depending on whether you have submitted and paid for your application. Before payment, you...

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Do I need to apply for ESTA if I have a stop-over in the United States?

Yes, even if your final destination is not the United States and you’re stopping at an airport in the U.S. for just an hour or two, you will still need to get an ESTA authorisation. You may not even be able to board your flight if you do not have a valid ESTA, as your airline will request this before your departure.

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