ESTA for German Citizens -

ESTA for German Citizens

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Under the terms of the Visa waiver Program (VWP) German citizens are able to visit the US with an ESTA instead of a visa. Germany has been a member of the VWP since 1990, previous to this West Germany became a member in 1989. German citizens can now benefit from the more simplified process of completing an online ESTA application.

ESTA Requirements and Important Information

  • ESTA is only for visits of up to a maximum 90 days
  • Required for travellers either flying or arriving by sea to the US
  • A valid, biometric passport is required
  • ESTA is issued for two years, or until passport expires
  • Can be used for tourism, business, medical or transit
  • Children are also required to have their own ESTA
  • Can be used for multiple visits to the US
Application for German Citizens

Benefits of Applying for ESTA for German Citizens

German citizens are able to take advantage of the more efficient process for obtaining travel authorization through an ESTA, which is considerably quicker and easier than applying for a US visa. Whilst the US visa application involves a long form to be completed, as well as providing documents and attending an interview at the US Embassy, applying for an ESTA can be done in around 10 minutes.

The applicant simply needs to complete the online ESTA form, which requires personal information e.g. name, address, DOB, as well as the applicant’s passport details. There is also a set of questions related to previous travel, criminal convictions and medical history. If the ESTA is approved, the applicant will receive confirmation by email and the ESTA will be automatically electronically linked to their passport.

The ESTA will be valid for two years, or until the linked passport expires – whichever date is the soonest. During that period of validity, the ESTA holder is able to use it for multiple trips to the US, provided that they do not stay for a period longer than 90 days in one trip.

How German Citizens Can Apply for ESTA

All the German citizens requires a valid passport, email address and a method to make a card payment for the application fee. Once the application form has been completed, the applicant should check over all of the information to make sure that there are no mistakes. An error on the form could result in the application getting declined, so it is recommended that extra care is taken when completing the information.

It is also recommended that the application is submitted a minimum of 72 hours before the time of intended travel. This should allow enough time for processing the application, even if there is a system error, or if it is a particularly busy time of the year.

Once the form has been completed, the application fee is paid and then the form is finally submitted. A response will be sent to the email address provided, to inform of the decision to approve or decline the ESTA. This often takes just a few hours, although it can take longer, hence giving at least 72 hours for processing.

Required Documents

In order to apply for the US ESTA online, the user needs the following documentation:

  • An electronic passport with a minimum six-month validity period after the intended entry date and a digital chip holding biometric data;
  • Personal Identification Number (PIN);
  • Passport number.

Passport Requirements for the US ESTA

Travelers who intend to visit the United States must possess passports that remain valid for a minimum of six months after their proposed stay, unless determined exempted by particular agreements between countries. Individuals touring under the Visa Waiver Program are obliged to secure a passport which is in effect for no less than 90 days. If your passport falls short of this expiration time frame you will be allowed entry until the expiry of its term.

The required specifications demand that a biometric passport with a clear picture of the bearer accompany any international journey and should also be machine-readable.

Changes and Updates to an ESTA Application After Its Submission

If it happens that the user enters some data incorrectly when filling out the application and wants to change it before submission, they will be able to do so, but only with certain data. Therefore, the user can change their:

  • Email address,
  • US contact address.

In other cases, the citizen must fill out a new application for ESTA. That is in the following situations:

  • They obtain a new passport,
  • They entered incorrect passport information or biographical information on the ESTA application form,
  • They alter their name, nationality, or gender identity.

How Long Does It Take to Get an ESTA From Germany?

In most cases, the ESTA approval process is fast. The average duration of the process is 24 hours, or shorter - just several hours. In rare cases, an additional revision of the ESTA application is required so that the process may take longer (up to 72 hours).

How Much in Advance Should You Apply for an ESTA?

It is advised to submit an ESTA application at least 72 hours before traveling. Even better, you can apply as soon as you buy airplane tickets. If you’ve forgotten to submit a form timely, you can still appy from the airport as approvals are usually granted very fast.

However, keep in mind that this may cause issues like delays, since sometimes requests are processed longer.

How Long Is ESTA Approved For?

From the moment the user receives the ESTA, it is valid for 2 years. ESTA authorizations for passengers whose passports expire in less than two years are only good until the passport’s expiration date.

Under What Circumstances Will German Citizens Need a New ESTA?

If one of the following cases happens to German citizens, they will need to apply for a new ESTA:

  • The passport is about to expire,
  • The new passport is issued,
  • They alter their name and gender,
  • Their responses to the ESTA qualifying requirements have changed.

ESTA Ineligibility: Who Doesn’t Qualify for this Travel Authorization?

It does not necessarily mean that you are eligible for ESTA only if you come from a VWP member country. There are individuals who do not meet certain conditions to get ESTA. This primarily applies to those arrested or with a criminal record. Also, persons suffering from some infectious diseases are not eligible for ESTA and will have to apply for the appropriate visa.

Travelers to or those currently residing in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen are absolved of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorism Travel Prevention Act. Furthermore, since March 1st, 2011, nationals of Iran, North Korea, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria also fall outside of the provisions laid forth by the VWP - save for restrained exceptions when traveling for certain diplomatic and military purposes sanctioned by a participating VWP country.

What Happens if ESTA is Declined?

There are generally only two reasons your ESTA will get declined. Either you made an error when you completed the form, or you have been deemed as not eligible under the criteria set by the US government for an ESTA.

You may be able to apply for a US visa to enable you to make your planned trip to the US, in which case you will need to firstly complete a DS-160 form and then attend an interview at the US Embassy.

The German US Embassy address is:

U.S. Embassy Berlin
Clayallee 170
14191 Berlin
Federal Republic of Germany

US ESTA vs US Visa: Are They the Same?

Although they are used for the same purpose, which is to enable travel to the USA, ESTA, and visa have a number of differences.

Here are the critical ones:

  • Getting a visa is more complicated and the process is longer. The applicant must go to the US Embassy in person to submit the visa application while this ESTA process is done online.
  • Visa costs are higher than ESTA costs.
  • Visa gives greater privileges to the user and guarantees entry to the USA, while approved ESTA does not mean guaranteed entry to America.
  • With an approved ESTA, the stay can last a maximum of 90 days, while that period is significantly longer with a visa.

In What Cases Will a German National Need a US Visa Instead of an ESTA?

Only German nationals planning trips of 90 days or less that will be made by air or sea and who do not already possess a valid visa for travel to the USA can use the ESTA.

When the following circumstances occur, the German must apply for a visa:

  • They are both German and Iranian, Iraqi, Sudanese, Syrian, or North Korean nationals,
  • The ESTA request is rejected,
  • They lack an electronic passport with a chip that can be read by computers and a digital picture,
  • They have a Kinderausweis passport for children obtained after October 26, 2006.
  • They were found guilty of an offense of moral turpitude.
  • They are spreading a contagious illness.
  • They already extended their stay in the US on an ESTA or visa.

Do Dual Citizens of the United States or Canada Need an ESTA?

It is not necessary for individuals who have joint German and United States or Canadian citizenship to apply for either an ESTA or a visa. However, the US Customs and Border Protection suggests that these people use their US or Canadian passports when traveling to the USA.

Do German Underage Travelers Have to Apply for an ESTA?

All Germany nationals, including minors, require an ESTA for traveling to the USA. Parents or legal guardians can submit a request on behalf of their children through the same process they used when applying for themselves. If there's more than one child, they may all make a collective ESTA request to speed up the procedure.

Can I Apply for My Family or Friends?

Yes, you may apply for relatives or companions. If traveling together to the US as a family or with friends, it would be easier to request an approval for all at the same time and this is allowed via group ESTA applications.

Benefits of ESTA for German citizens:
  • Quick processing
  • Valid for visits of up to 90 days
  • Quick to complete application
  • Fill in form using mobile or desktop
  • Can use for multiple visits to US
  • Visits for tourism, business, medical or transit purposes
Where Can I Learn More About ESTA?

You can find more information about ESTA before starting your application by visiting our in-depth Frequently Asked Questions and ESTA requirements pages of our website.

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, German citizens need an ESTA to travel to the USA. However, ESTA can be used exclusively for tourism, transit, business and medical reasons, and the trip must not exceed the 90 days limit. An appropriate visa is necessary for all other purposes.
The intention of the travel and its duration are key in determining whether a visa is required or not for German citizens to enter the USA. For a trip under 90 days long, for tourism, transit, medical and business purposes, they should go for an ESTA instead of submitting a visa application.
In instances where the above does not apply, obtaining a Visa is necessary.
ESTA is required for every German citizen who wants to enter the USA for a period under 90 days. During that time, only transit, trips for medical reasons, and business or tourist activities are allowed.
The ESTA approval procedure is usually quick. The procedure takes around 24 hours on average, and the German citizens will obtain the ESTA within that time, or even in matter of hours.
In rare situations, an additional review of the ESTA application is necessary, which may lengthen the procedure to up to 72 hours.
No, ESTA does not guarantee entry into the USA. The final decision is made by border and customs officials. Unlike ESTA, an approved visa guarantees entry into America.