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.
These tend to be applications where the information is unclear or contains mistakes, so make
sure to be clear and accurate when filling out your application to avoid delays or paying
for a second application.
As your ESTA is valid for 2 years, it is usually a good idea to
apply for your ESTA permit
when purchasing your tickets. It is always better to complete the application early, in case
there are any mistakes or issues that result in you having to reapply, or in case your denied
and need to reapply. Click here for more information on why your application could be denied.
If you think that any of the criteria for inadmissibility contained within the Immigration and
Nationality Act apply to you, then you should apply for a B1 or B2 visa instead. However, it
must be noted that obtaining a visa is generally a much lengthier process than the ESTA.
If you want to know more about the differences between an ESTA and a visa then have a look at
the relevant page here.
If you’re coming to the U.S. by land either via Canada or Mexico, then you do not need an ESTA permit.
The permit is only needed
for air or sea travel. However, if you are coming to the U.S. using a personal yacht or personal
boat, then you will need a B1 or B2 Visa. On the other hand, if you’re going to the U.S. on a cruise,
then you can enter the U.S. using your ESTA.
Bear in mind that an ESTA does not guarantee entry to the U.S., as that decision is dependent on
Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The CBP can deny or cancel an ESTA at any point during or