Summary You are looking forward to your upcoming trip to the USA! Before you go, you may have to apply with the ESTA or the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. What are the requirements for this application and how do you apply?
What is the ESTA to USA Travel Requirements?
What is the ESTA application and why do you need it to travel to the USA? The ESTA, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is approved for short-term travel to the US – it is not a visa. It is similar to a US visa application but does not guarantee the same rights as a full visa.
ESTA is a form that must be filled out by non-US citizens who wish to travel to the USA. You are required to complete this application so the US authorities can register your information in their system. Even if you plan to stay only a week, you must register with ESTA. Apply at least 72 hours before your planned departure to the USA.
How do you submit an ESTA application?
First, check your eligibility. You must be an eligible national of a country in the Visa Waiver Program. These include Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom.
Your planned trip to the US must be less than 90 days. If you already have a visa to the US, you are not eligible. If you already possess a valid American visa, then you may travel to the US with that visa. Finally, the purpose of your trip must be for business or pleasure.
If you are traveling with your family, you can submit an ESTA group application as well. Children under the age of 18 must also have ESTA approval for traveling to the US for 90 days or less.
Once you’ve confirmed you’re eligible, make sure you have a valid passport from your home country and a valid credit card or PayPal account. The ESTA application accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover. The fee is USD 14. In some cases, you may also need to provide your employment information.
Online Application Form
You will fill out the form entirely online, on the US Customs and Border Protection website. It will ask for your details and passport number. If you make a mistake on your application, you cannot fix it after you’ve paid the application fee.
To do so, you will have to start a new application – so double-check all your information is correct before submitting it. If you have questions about filling out the form, visit the ESTA FAQs page.
After filling out the online form, you must make a payment of USD 14. You will pay securely on the ESTA website. Your application cannot be processed until you’ve paid. You can delay payment for up to 7 days after submitting your form, though. It is only possible to use the electronic payment for your ESTA application, US Customs and Border Protection will not accept another form of payment.
After you’ve submitted your form and paid the fee, you will receive confirmation that your ESTA application is in progress. Processing will typically take between 3-5 days, and you will be notified via email once you are approved.
You can check your status at any time during processing by visiting the ESTA homepage. Your ESTA will remain valid for the next two years, or until your passport expires.
If your application is approved, you are not guaranteed entry into the US automatically. When you arrive in the US, likely via an airport, you will still go through border patrol and have your passport checked.
You do not need physical documentation of your ESTA approval – they will check that you are authorized by looking up your passport number. Just don’t forget your passport!
If your ESTA application is denied, you will have to contact the US Department of State about obtaining a visa or visit your local US Embassy or Consulate and inquire about a nonimmigrant visa.
The ESTA to US application process is simple and painless if you plan ahead. Confirm your eligibility, gather your documents, and leave at least a week or two for your application to be submitted and processed. When in doubt, always refer to the ESTA website for your questions. And safe travels!
What Are the ESTA to USA Travel Requirements?