ESTA application: for business and tourist trips
Submitting an ESTA application is mandatory for all travellers who want to travel to the United States of America by boat or by plane, even if they are only on transit. Only travellers who possess a US visa or passport do not fall under this requirement. An ESTA application is also required for children and babies.
How can you submit an ESTA application?
It is possible to submit an ESTA application for yourself, but you can also submit the application for someone else, or for a whole travel company at once. An ESTA application can be submitted online by filling in an online form and making the required payment of £29,95 per person with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or PayPal. The processing time of an application is generally less than a day. In rare cases, it can take up to 72 hours before an ESTA application is processed and approved or rejected. Urgent applications are usually assessed within 20 minutes; however, no guarantees can be given regarding the maximum processing times.
Don’t possess a valid ESTA, US visa or US passport? Then your airline cannot grant you access to board the plane.
Important information for applying for an ESTA
The ESTA(Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is not a visa and cannot be used as a replacement for one. In certain cases, an ESTA is not sufficient and depending on the travel purpose, a specific visa might be required.The cases where an ESTA is not sufficient can be read below under the header "exceptions". Aside from the travel purpose, there are several strict requirements that apply to acquiring an ESTA travel permit.
Firstly, with an ESTA you are allowed to stay in the United States for a maximum of 90 days. From the moment the ESTA is granted, it is valid for two years. This means that during this total period of two years, multiple trips to the US can be made, similar to a multiple-entry visa. However, each individual trip cannot last more than 90 days. It is not intended for travellers to briefly leave the US only to return to get around the 90 day limitation. No concrete regulations exist about this, however. A final decision regarding the admission of a person on US soil is always taken by an employee of U.S. Customs and Border Control. During the application process of an ESTA USA, the applicant must agree to respect that this final decision by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is irrevocable. Fighting a rejection is therefore not possible under any circumstances.
The ESTA USA is digitally linked to the passport of the traveller. When the passport expires, the validity of the ESTA expires alongside it right away. A new ESTA application needs to be submitted with the newly acquired passport in order to still travel to the United States.
Submitting an ESTA application is mandatory for travellers of all ages, including children and babies. Strictly speaking, children and babies are required to agree to the terms of the ESTA, but it is permitted for parents to make these decisions on their behalf.
Mandatory for business trips, tourism and transits
For an ESTA application, it does not matter if the traveller is going to the US on business, for tourism or on a transit. However, there are restrictions regarding the activities which travellers on an ESTA can perform in the US. It is not allowed to work, study or live in the US without possessing a visa.
Make sure that you meet the requirements to avoid rejection of an ESTA application.
Safe trip to the US
As a consequence of the 9/11 Commission Act, it is no longer possible to travel to the United States without a travel authorisation. As a result of this restriction, it is possible for Homeland Security to screen all travellers going to the US before departure. The main purpose of this screening is to stop any potential travellers that might pose a threat to the safety and law enforcement of the United States. In order to allow the large flow of travellers to easily acquire the right travel authorisation, Homeland Security decided to implement an authorisation "below" the visa: the ESTA. For inhabitants of countries that fall under the Visa Waiver Program, it is possible to apply for an ESTA in most cases. The benefit of the ESTA USA compared to the visa is that applying for an ESTA is easier, it is granted faster and comes with less costs. Travellers that do not meet the requirements of the ESTA can still apply for a visa.
Because submitting an ESTA application is mandatory before leaving for the US, the US customs office can screen travellers and quickly spot safety threats.
In the following cases, you do NOT meet the requirements for an ESTA. You might meet the requirements for a US visa.
- You want to stay in the United States for longer than 90 days
- You want to live or study in the USA
- You want to enter into service with a US company
- After 1 March 2011, you have been in Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, North Korea, Iran or Iraq
- You pose a potential threat to the law enforcement or safety of the United States
Submit an ESTA application now
Do you want to travel to the United States without a visa or a US passport, and do you meet the above mentioned requirements? Start your ESTA application through the online application form:
Do you meet the above mentioned requirements and do you want to submit an urgent ESTA application? Urgent application are processed immediately. Where normal application generally don’t take longer than 72 hours, an urgent application results in an approved ESTA in 60 minutes; however, even urgent applications can take a bit longer due to randomized checks by the US immigration service. The approved travel authorisation is sent both by e-mail, as well as being linked to the passport of the traveller. For urgent application, an additional fee of £17,50 per person is charged.