ESTA USA is an online system where citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) can apply for an online travel authorization. The ESTA USA and VWP allow travelers to visit the US for up to 90 days, for tourism, business, medical, or short-term study purposes. Many travelers also refer to the travel authorization as an “ESTA visa”, however ESTA confirmation is only an authorization to enter the US, and it is not a visa.
Japan has strong ties with the Unites States, as being one of America’s largest commercial partners. Nearly $400 billion in goods and services are traded between the two countries annually. Japan joined the VWP on 16 December 1988, making it easier for Japanese nationals to visit USA. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was introduced in 2008, and became mandatory in 2009. It was and still is a requirement for travelers who want to travel to USA under the VWP. ESTA USA enables travelers to apply online instead of visiting the embassy or consulate to apply for a visa. From October 2013 - September 2014, 3,917,113 Japanese nationals visited the USA using the Visa Waiver Program.
Japanese passport holders who wish to enter the United States may complete the ESTA application. Confirmation of the application may take up to 72 hours, but it is mostly issued before that. It is recommended to apply at least 72 hours before prior to departure. Confirmed applications are valid for two years and applicants must (when visiting the US under the VWP) fly with a signatory carrier. Japan Airlines, for example, is a signatory member.
If any Japanese citizens do not receive an ESTA confirmation, they may apply for a B1/B2 visa at the US Embassy in Tokyo.
Airlines (Signatory Carriers) that fly to the USA from Japan:
Cruise ships (Signatory Carriers):
The US Embassy and Consulates in Japan: