ESTA for Australian Citizens -

ESTA for Australian Citizens

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Citizens of Australia are able to apply for an ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), as Australia has been part of the VWP since 1996. Australian citizens can benefit from the much faster and simpler processing of ESTA compared to applying for a traditional US visa.

ESTA Requirements and Important Information

  • A valid, biometric passport is required
  • ESTA is valid for visits of up to a maximum of 90 days
  • For travellers either arriving by sea or flying to the US
  • ESTA is valid for two years, or until passport expires
  • Use for tourism, business, medical purposes or transit
  • Children require their own ESTA
  • Allows multiple visits to the US
Application for Australian Citizens

What Is ESTA and How Does It Work?

ESTA is an acronym for Electronic system for travel authorization. This is a system that grants VWP travelers visa-free travel to the US. The ESTA permits qualified foreigners to enter the US instead of the traditional visa. However, the purpose of travel must be within tourism and business. The ESTA is also only for a travel period of 90 days. This implies that your total travel period has to be within 90 days.

What Is the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

The USA commenced the Visa Waiver Programme in 1986 to encourage tourism and travel freedom between US-friendly countries. There are currently 40 countries under US's VWP. These countries are also expected to allow US nationals to travel to their countries for business or tourism for the same duration. This is reciprocated in Australia by the Electronic Travel Authority.

However, despite being an Australian citizen, or a citizen of any other country benefitting from the VWP, you could be refused entry to the USA, except if you are a permanent resident who does not need a US visa or an ESTA. This can be based on certain factors like your criminal record. You should know that the Australian government has no say in whether your ESTA application is denied or approved. You can apply for a US visitor visa if your application is rejected.

ESTA vs. Visa: What's the Difference?

The visa system has been in place since 1924 to control the immigration of foreign nationals into the US. One of the changes made to the Visa system is the introduction of ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program. However, there are many differences between an ESTA and a US visa.

One of the many differences between them is the purpose of travel. As mentioned earlier, the ESTA is strictly for business and tourism. Under the ESTA, you are not allowed to work or study in the US. Doing this will require a visa application. For the Visa system, many types of Visas are available for different purposes.

Another difference between these two is the duration of travel. For the ESTA, you can spend up to 90 days in the US, but not beyond. If you desire to exceed this duration, you are required to apply for a traditional visa. The travel duration can also vary, depending on the type of visa you apply for, but the ESTA travel duration is a fixed period of 90 days.

Also, the validation period of the ESTA is different from the visa. An ESTA is only valid for two years. After two years, you will be required to apply for another. An ESTA's validity can also be affected by the expiration of the visa it is linked to. This means an ESTA is valid for two years or until the passport it is linked to expires, whichever one comes first. However, you can use the ESTA for multiple travels within its two-year validity period. The validity period of the US visa differs based on the type of visa you acquire.

Lastly, a significant difference between the ESTA and US visa is the application process. The ESTA is the faster way to visit the US. All you need to do is to apply by filling out an online application form which the US Department of Homeland Security administers. On average, the form takes only about 10 minutes. It requires you to provide some personal information, your passport details, and information on criminal records and health issues, where applicable.

After the application has been submitted, it will be processed in a few hours or longer in some instances. After it has been approved, it will automatically link to your Australian passport and is then ready for use.

Benefits of Applying for ESTA for Australian Citizens

Australian citizens are eligible to apply for an ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program, which includes a set of countries that have been approved by the US government. Since 1996, Australian citizens have been able to use an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), simply by completing an ESTA form. The ESTA application form is an online form that comprises of a set of questions that are used to determine whether the applicant is approved to visit the US under the conditions of the ESTA.

The information supplied for the Australian citizen’s ESTA application is reviewed by the authorities to assess whether the applicant is deemed to be a risk to the US. For example, they will be screened for links to terrorism, as well as have any other criminal activity scrutinised.

Before the ESTA was available for Australian citizens to visit the US, they would require a visa, which takes considerably longer to obtain. Usually, a visa will only be granted if the applicant visit the US Embassy and has an interview to decide whether their visa will be approved.

How to Apply for ESTA

Australian citizens can complete the online ESTA form that will take less than 30 minutes to complete. They will need to provide their passport details, personal information and answer the eligibility criteria questions. It is advised that the application is made at least 72 hours before the person is due to travel to the US. This is because the processing time could be delayed, this has happened before where the system has crashed and travellers were unable to take their intended flights.

As well as having a valid passport, applicants need to have a valid email address for correspondence regarding the application and a payment card to use for the payment of the application fee.

ESTA Application: What Do I Need to Apply?

There are important documents that will be required of you when applying for an ESTA. To make your application easier, we will provide you with a list of those documents.

  • Valid passport(s) from a Visa Waiver Program country.
  • Traveler's National ID or Personal ID number (If Applicable).

Other information that could be required of you according to the US Customs and Border Protection are:

  • a valid email address.
  • home address and phone number.
  • Your emergency point of contact’s phone and email.
  • traveler's aliases or other names (If Applicable)
  • National ID or Personal ID number (If Applicable).
  • Global Entry ID Number (If Applicable).
  • Employer's address and phone number (If Applicable).
  • U.S. point of contact name, address, and phone (If Applicable).

These are the basic information needed for your ESTA application. You can check the Department of homeland security's official website for further information.

Under What Circumstances Will I Need a New ESTA?

You will need to apply for a new ESTA if you find yourself in any of the following situations:

  • If your ESTA reaches its two years validity period or you, for any reason, get a new passport
  • If your Australian passport expires or for any reason
  • If you change your name or your gender
  • If you change your country of citizenship

Important Advice for ESTA Application

Any errors on the application could result in it being refused or delayed, so it is very important to take your time and be careful when providing information like your passport number to avoid mistakes. If you have adequate time, it is better to apply for your ESTA several weeks in advance of your travel plans for the US, as this will give you more time to resolve any issues and re-apply if necessary.

What to do if ESTA is Declined

If your ESTA application is declined, you may still be able to apply for a visa to enable you to travel to the US. Explore the different types of US visas and their requirements to determine whether you are eligible to apply for one and then start the application process by scheduling an interview with the US Embassy.

The address of the US Embassy in Australia is:

US Embassy Canberra
Moonah Place
ACT 2600

There are also consulates in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Benefits of ESTA for Australian citizens:
  • Quick processing time
  • Can visit US for tourism, business, medical or transit
  • Valid for visits of less than 90 days
  • Application quick to complete
  • Form can be completed on mobile or desktop
  • Able to use for multiple visits to US

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.


Yes, Australians can get ESTAs because Australia is part of the countries eligible for the US's Visa waiver program. However, you might be denied an ESTA as deemed fit by the Department of Homeland Security.
Australians need an ESTA or a valid visa to enter the USA. Because it is easier and faster to apply for, it is better to enter the USA through an ESTA. You need to ensure that your purpose of the visit is either for business, tourism, or health and that your duration of stay is within 90 days. If your travel plans do not meet these requirements, you need a visa to enter the USA.
An Australian citizen can stay in the USA for up to 90 days but not beyond. This is also applicable to all other countries under the US VWP.
While you can only spend 90 days or less with an ESTA, there is no limit to the number of times you can travel to the US with your ESTA. However, entry into the US remains subject to the discretion of immigration officials.
Your ESTA is valid for two years or until your passport expires, depending on which one comes first. After this, you must re-apply for the ESTA to keep traveling to the US through ESTA.