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ESTA - Travel Authorization: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is ESTA?

ESTA is the acronym for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization: an online program administered by Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security to prescreen travelers planning travel of 90 days or less to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program to ensure they do not pose a security or law enforcement risk. ESTA was implemented on August 1, 2008, to boost the security of the VWP, and has been mandatory for all Visa Waiver Program travelers since January 12, 2009.

How do I apply?

In order to complete an ESTA application, you will need your passport information; any other names you use; your visa admissions history for the United States; your parents' names; your city of birth; any national identification number you may have; your contact information; your history of communicable disease, if any; your criminal history, if any; and a credit card number.

What does an ESTA authorization do?

An ESTA authorization qualifies you for travel under the Visa Waiver Program, but it does not necessarily mean you will be admitted to the United States. Admission to the United States is based on inspection by a Customs and Border Protection officer once you disembark in the United States, and is at their discretion.

Who is eligible to make an ESTA application?

You are eligible to apply for ESTA if you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country planning to enter the United States by air or sea, on an approved carrier.

The Visa Waiver Program countries are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

Each traveler must have a valid passport and a round-trip ticket, with their trip ending outside the United States. Each traveler must apply, including minor children under 18, and meet all eligibility conditions of the Visa Waiver Program.

Do I need to apply for ESTA if I am a VWP country citizen and...?

...am also a lawful permanent resident of the United States?

...am also a dual citizen with US citizenship?
No - citizens must use their American passport when entering the United States.

...am also a landed immigrant of Canada, and traveling to the United States by land?

...am also a landed immigrant of Canada, and traveling to the United States by sea or air?

...am also a lawful permanent resident of the United States?
If you are flying under your VWP passport and using the VWP, yes. If you are traveling under your non-VWP passport and a visa, you are not eligible for the ESTA.

...have a valid visa at the time of travel?

...am traveling to the United States by land via Canada or Mexico, under a green I-94 card?

...am traveling to the United States by sea or air via Canada or Mexico?

...am transiting through the United States only, and not staying there?

...am a minor under the age of 18 traveling under the VWP?

...am traveling for a short-term stay to the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico?

When should I submit my ESTA application?

It is recommended to make your application as soon as you decide to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, but one can apply up to 72 hours before travel. There is no need to wait until your itinerary is confirmed: You do not need concrete travel information or accommodations to apply.
There is no penalty if you apply early and your ESTA expires while you are still in the United States: You can still depart for your country of origin as planned.

Does ESTA allow group applications?

It is easy to group your applications: After submitting your application, select the option to submit a new application on the thank-you page and fill out the new application for the next applicant.

Can I correct errors in my ESTA application information?

Only certain errors in ESTA applications can be corrected: your email address, your phone number, and your travel information. In the case of an error in passport-related information, you must cancel and reapply, so it is best to be precise when filling out the application form.

What is the validity period of an ESTA application?

An ESTA authorization is valid until your passport expires or for two years from the date when you are approved to travel, whichever date is earlier.

What if my ESTA authorization is not approved?

If your application is denied, you can still travel to the United States under a visa program. Apply through your closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for details.

Is an ESTA authorization valid for multiple trips to the United States?

A valid ESTA authorization permits you unlimited entries into the United States.

Do I need to reapply if I acquired my ESTA authorization before additional information was required in 2014?

No; all current ESTA authorizations are still valid. You will only be required to supply the additional information if you reapply when that current authorization expires.

What is the response time on an ESTA application?

In most cases, ESTA results are available almost instantly, and you will receive our email informing you of the status inside 24 hours. However, it can take up to 72 hours to receive a status determination and email it to your inbox.

If I forget my application number, what do I do?

Just send an application through our Verify/Check ESTA Status page, and your ESTA number will be sent to the email address associated with your application.

Can one person make an ESTA application for another? Can I apply for friends or relatives, or have them apply for me?

ESTA permits third-party applications, but the person traveling is ultimately responsible for the truthfulness and completeness of any information provided on the ESTA application.

When traveling to the United States, what ESTA documents should I bring?

On the day of travel, print out the PDF with your ESTA number and carry it with your other travel documents. While United States border officials can electronically access your ESTA approval, your airline or carrier may require the printout at check-in.

When should I reapply for a new ESTA authorization?

You should submit a new application if your ESTA authorization expires and you wish to travel to the United States. Unfortunately, ESTA authorizations cannot be directly renewed at this time. Otherwise, apply for a new ESTA authorization if you:

  • Change your name for any reason;
  • Receive a new passport;
  • Change your gender;
  • Change your country of citizenship;
  • Experience a change in your situation as it applies to your ESTA authorization, whether that is legal or medical.



Visa Waiver Countries

San Marino
Czech Republic
South Korea
United Kingdom