US ESTA Visa Waiver Requirements for British Citizens

ESTA for UK Citizens

In this article

Citizens of the United Kingdom are eligible to apply for an ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The UK has been a member of the VWP since 1988 and currently remains an active member.

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 UK Citizens

What is ESTA?

The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) is a visa-waiving scheme for citizens of selected countries to travel to the United States without a visa. In 2009, it was used to streamline the visa-waving application process. It was also used to aid the United States CBP and the DHS in using authorised databases in pre-screening immigrants for criminals, no-flyers, and terrorists. Hence, UK nationals are mandated to get certified ESTA applications to gain access to the US. However, if a British national receives a decline in their application or wants to stay in America longer than 90 days, such a person has to obtain the needed American visa. This alternate visa application condition also applies to UK passport owners who want to travel to the US for not covered reasons under the ESTA scheme.

How British Citizens Can Use ESTA?

British citizens are eligible under the VWP to apply for an ESTA and to waiver the requirement for a visa when travelling to the US. Anyone travelling to the US requires the relevant travel documents and UK citizens visiting the US must get either an ESTA or a visa. If the purpose of the visit is for tourism, business, medical, or transit, for a period of no longer than 90 days, then an ESTA is the adequate travel authorisation that is required.

Applying for an ESTA for UK citizens is a lot quicker and more straightforward than applying for the traditional US visa. Usually, the applicant will receive the response regarding their application within just a few hours, sometimes even sooner. It is recommended that ESTA for Brits applicants submit their application at least 72 hours before their intended travel date.

How to Apply for ESTA?

UK citizens can apply for ESTA by completing a simple online form. They are required to provide their personal information and passport details, and also must answer a set of eligibility questions. Once completed, they can submit the application which will then be screened by the US Department of Homeland Security. If the application is approved, then the ESTA will automatically be electronically linked to the applicant’s passport.

Required Documents

To apply for ESTA, the following is required:

  • Valid passport(s) from a nation included in the Visa Waiver Program;
  • Valid email address of the traveler;
  • The home address and phone number of the traveler;
  • Telephone and email emergency contacts for travelers.

Some of the following information may also be requested:

  • Other names or aliases used by travelers;
  • National ID number or Personal ID of the traveler;
  • Number of the traveler's Global Entry ID;
  • Phone number and address of the traveler's employer;
  • Name, address, and phone of the traveler's U.S. contact person.

The Correct Type of Passport

  • To use the VWP, the applicant must have an e-passport. An electronic chip is incorporated into an e-passport, making it more secure.
  • An ESTA applicant must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the intended departure from the United States.
  • As for the family, each member must have their own passport, including children.

Important Advice for ESTA Application

When completing the ESTA application, it is important to make sure that no mistakes are made. Any errors can result in the application being refused, which could mean you do not have an ESTA in place in time for your trip to the US. As the ESTA is valid for two years from the issue, it is a good idea to apply well in advance of your trip, to ensure that you have time to reapply if necessary or to try and resolve any issues with the application.

What if my ESTA is Declined?

In the event that your ESTA application is refused, you are able to apply for a tourist or business visa. To do this, you are required to complete a D-160 form and will also be required to attend an interview at the US Embassy. In the UK, there is a US Embassy in London and US Consulate Generals in Belfast and Edinburgh.

UK London Embassy Address:

Embassy of the United States of America
33 Nine Elms Lane
SW11 7US

Updating an ESTA

It is necessary for a person to obtain a new ESTA in case of: name change; obtaining a new passport, including an emergency or temporary passport; gender change; change of country or citizenship; that the person needs to change their answers to any of the "yes" or "no" questions on the ESTA application.

Benefits of ESTA for UK citizens:

  • Fast processing time
  • Visit US for tourism, business, medical or transit
  • Valid for visits of up to 90 days
  • Quick to complete application
  • Fill in form using mobile or desktop
  • Use for multiple visits to US

Can UK Nationals Apply For An ESTA Visa Waiver?

Yes, nationals of the United Kingdom can apply for an ESTA visa waiver to move to the US. Since the United Kingdom joined the ESTA scheme in 1988, its purpose has been to aid UK citizens to travel to America for 90 days on every visit. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization Visa Waiver allows British nationals to travel for the following purposes:

  • Business
  • Tourism
  • Transit
  • Health treatment
  • Short-term academic stays

However, due to security reasons like terrorism, travelers constantly undergo pre-screening before entering the US.

Can UK citizens Still Apply For an ESTA?

Great Britain is among the ESTA-eligible countries. It is also on the list of nations that can benefit from the United States Visa Waiver Scheme. So, British citizens can apply for an ESTA.

Is ESTA free for UK citizens?

No. ESTA is not free for United Kingdom citizens. However, it is affordable. Every British applicant needs to pay about £11 through their credit cards. But if their application is not successful and they need to reapply, they will only spend about £3.2.

Do UK Citizens Need ESTA For The USA?

UK citizens need to have an ESTA visa waiver before visiting the US. This ESTA authorization will allow them to tour, do business, or transit in the US without any other visa.

Is An ESTA Different From An American Visa?

Yes, an ESTA is different from an American visa. The primary information to note is that an authorized ESTA application does not give UK passport holders equal rights with American visa owners in the United States territory. Anyone applying for an American visa will have to fill out a more detailed form known as the DS-160. Such an individual will be interviewed at an American embassy. Every American Visa applicant may have to present extra documents to show their intentions for moving into the United States and how authentic their plans are. However, this extra document presentation situation differs between visa types.

How UK Nationals Can Request For an ESTA?

The basic instruction for the ESTA application is that it must be done online. An ESTA visa waiver is needed before traveling (by sea or air) into the US. Every traveler must apply for at least 72 hours before their journey. Every applicant needs to have a valid ePassport to apply for ESTA.

What Requirements Do British Nationals Need To Meet For ESTA?

The basic requirements that British applicants need to meet for ESTA include:

  • An electronic British passport.
  • A valid email address.
  • A residential address and telephone number.
  • An emergency telephone number and email address.
  • An accepted payment method.

Every applicant should note that their traveling purpose must be within the spectrum of the visa waiver scheme. Also, they can only travel by either sea or air.

Can All UK Nationals Obtain ESTA?

No, not all UK nationals can obtain ESTA. The following United Kingdom nationals cannot obtain ESTA:

  • UK Overseas Citizens
  • UK Subjects
  • UK Dependent Territories Citizens
  • UK National (Overseas) Citizens
  • British Protected Persons

These individuals cannot obtain ESTA or travel by order of the Visa Waiver Scheme. Also, individuals who are in the UK through the “Right of Abode” or “Indefinite Leave to Remain” cannot travel by the Visa Waiver Scheme or the ESTA. People with the above-listed nationality conditions in the United Kingdom will have to obtain a United States visa.

How Long Does It Take To Complete An ESTA Application?

It takes less than 15 minutes to complete an ESTA application. Although, the completion time varies based on the applicant’s passport availability and information.

How To Pay For An ESTA Application?

Every ESTA application and payment can only be made on the internet. There is no way an application can be processed if it is not entirely paid for. There are different means of paying for an application. They include debit and credit cards like:

  • Visa Credit
  • MasterCard Credit
  • Diner’s Club
  • Visa Debit
  • American Express
  • Discover, and others.

Can I Renew My ESTA?

No, ESTA cannot be renewed - the user must submit a new application after the Esta expires.

How Long Until An ESTA Expires?

Immediately an ESTA is issued, its validity begins. The validity period of an ESTA depends on two conditions.

  • The first condition is that an ESTA remains valid for two years after being issued. Once its 2-year period completes, it becomes invalid.
  • On the other hand, an ESTA can remain valid until the passport expires.

So, the condition that happens first determines the validity period of an ESTA.

Can I Extend My ESTA?

If a person enters the country through the Visa Waiver Program, they are not allowed to stay any longer than the initial period of admission and must depart the country by the deadline indicated on their entrance stamp.

What Will Happen If a UK Citizen Is Not Given An ESTA?

Every UK citizen that is refused an ESTA will have to apply for a United States visa to access the US. If you make an error on your ESTA, you can correct them.

Is It Possible To Request For an ESTA Using Numerous Citizenships?

Yes, it is possible for an applicant with several citizenship or passports to request an ESTA. The passport used to apply for the ESTA must also be used to travel into the USA. Every applicant needs to be sure about the passport they want to use before applying for an ESTA using numerous citizenships.

Is It Possible To Request For An ESTA With a Criminal History?

Yes, it is possible for an applicant with a criminal history to request an ESTA. But, they have to be aware of the ESTA eligibility questions before they make their application.

Can British Minors Apply For an ESTA?

British minors, ranging from babies to children, need to have stamped ESTAs, so far they are traveling. Every parent and lawful guardian traveling with a minor needs to check the travel requirements into the United States.

Does a British Land Immigrant From Canada and Mexico Need ESTA?

British citizens crossing into the United States by land do not need ESTA. Although having an ESTA will quicken the entry process at the land border, still, it is not compulsory to have it. What is rather important is an I-94 form. This form contains similar questions to the ESTA application.

Can I Always Check The Status of An ESTA Application?

Every UK citizen that has applied for ESTA can monitor their application status as they wish, so far they have submitted. They should acquaint themselves with the kinds of ESTA application statuses to understand their progress.

Do I need an ESTA if entering the US by land?

Yes, аn Electronic System for Travel Authorization is valid for land, air, and sea travel. US ESTA is mandatory for citizens of all US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries who are entering the United States by land from May 2, 2022. The I-94W form (Non-immigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Record) is replaced with mandatory ESTA for land entry into the 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.