Generally, your application and information are only accessed by government officials on a
"need to know" basis. The information on your ESTA application is stored by the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) and they control the database with any information collected by applications.
They in turn can share it with consular officers at the Department of State (DoS) to determine
whether the ESTA approval should be issued to an applicant (you, or possibly someone else if
your application is relevant). In fact, the DHS and DoS currently have an agreement to share
information pertaining to ESTA applicants for the purposes of decision-making.
Additionally, information can be shared with other departments - but this can only occur for a
valid, necessary reason, and is more restricted. In fact,
information related to ESTA application
can be shared with the appropriate federal, state, local, tribal and foreign governmental agencies
or multilateral governmental organizations; though the information can only be shared outside
of DHS and DoS solely if this information is needed for civil or criminal investigation.
Also, information is shared with other facets of the government for counter terrorism purposes
and also to prevent international crime, which is why the data collected from ESTA applications
can be shared with multilateral government organizations, compared against multiple databases,
Airlines and cruise ships will not receive much information related to ESTA applications apart
from receiving an update on whether they have been approved or denied. However, we recommend
printing your ESTA form after it is accepted and before you board the airplane or ship as a
precaution, because if the travel service has not been notified and if you cannot prove you
have an ESTA, you will not be able to board a plane or boat to the U.S.