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What information does ESTA need?

When applying for an ESTA, the information provided will help the department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) cross check your information with no-fly and criminal databases. This is done in order to prevent individuals who might pose a threat to national security from entering the United States. While, of course, security is extremely important, the authorities recognise while implementing this extra level of security that the process of collecting the required information is as straightforward as possible.
Here’s a table with the information that ESTA needs for the application:

Applicant information

You will need a good quality scan of your passport, the machine readable part needs to be clear for the page to be able to recognise that - this is an important bit as otherwise an error will appear!
On this page you need the following information:
  • City of Birth - the system will also accept the town you were born in, or if you do not know you can always write ‘unknown’.
  • Country of Birth
  • Passport Number - this field will be populated automatically when you upload your passport on the page.
  • Country of Citizenship
  • National Identification Number - only applicable if the country you are from issues an Identification Card
  • Passport details - this includes things like issuance date and issuing country.
  • You also need to indicate if you were issued a passport or an identity card by any other country. In this section, ESTA will require the issuing country, document type, document number, and expiration year. You will also need to state if you hold or have held a citizenship of any other country.
  • This page on the application will also ask if you are a member of a CBP Global Entry Program. This program allows for the expedited clearance for pre-approved travelers when they arrive at the U.S. so if you are a member you can used an automated kiosk when you land at airports that have this option available. Travellers need to go through a rigorous background check as well as interviews in order to be considered for the Global Entry Program.
  • The names of your parents.
  • You will also need to input your contact information - such as your address, phone number, and email address.
  • You need to specify your current or past employment information, you can also list that as ‘No’ if you do not have a job at the moment or if you did not have a job in the past.

Travel Information

If you’re not stopping in the U.S. during transit on your way to another country, you need to indicate your U.S. point of contact information. You will also need to write the address you’re staying in the U.S. - this can also be the same as the point of contact. Where you will be there in transit, indicate this.

Eligibility Questions

These are a series of Yes or No questions to determine whether or not you are eligible to travel using ESTA. You need to answer these questions truthfully as your information can be cross checked with travel and criminal databases.
In this section you will be requested to provide the following in relation to yourself:
  • Any history of mental illness, criminal activity, or communicable disease
  • Whether you have ever committed fraud or engaged in terrorist activities, sabotage, or genocide.
  • Whether you are currently seeking employment in the U.S. or worked in the United States without the necessary government permission
  • You need to state if you were previously denied a visa to the U.S. or overstayed a visa
  • The last thing is that you need to state whether or not you have travelled to Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after March 1 2011
Someone will also need to be your emergency contact in or out of the U.S.