Frequently asked questions about the ESTA
Are you unsure whether you need an ESTA for your trip to the US, or how the application procedure works? These and a large number of other frequently asked questions can be found on this page.
What is an ESTA?
The ESTA is a mandatory travel authorisation to travel to the United States of America without a visa. Applying for an ESTA is also mandatory for travellers headed to other US territories, including Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands. As the procedure for applying for a US visa is a lot more complicated and takes longer than an ESTA application, most travellers choose for an ESTA. Applying can be done entirely online, and is often approved the same day. This happens through a digital link with the passport, and a confirmation by e-mail.
Do I need an ESTA or a visa?
If you are traveling to the United States on business or tourism, and are staying for less than 90 days, you qualify for an ESTA. Even if you are only on transit and are not leaving the airport in the US, you are still required to possess a valid ESTA. If you possess a valid ESTA, you do not need a US visa to enter America. If you want to stay in the US for longer than 90 days, you cannot apply for an ESTA and must choose between a number of different visas. Each variant has its own requirements. If you have a valid US visa, you do not need to apply for an ESTA. Read more about the US visa.
How can I submit an application?
Submitting an application can be easily done online, through the digital application form. After filling in the form for yourself, someone else, or an entire travel company, the payment for the application costs needs to be made. This can be done safely and reliably through Visa, MasterCard, American Express or PayPal. After the application and payment have been received, you must upload a photo or scan of the passport. The application is then processed immediately. Urgent ESTA application are on average granted within an hour. Issuing of the ESTA happens through a digital link with the passport of the traveller. Travellers also receive a confirmation by e-mail if the ESTA has been approved. When boarding flights or boat trips to the US, the transportation company performs a passport check to see if all travellers possess a valid ESTA or visa.
When do I receive my ESTA?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not offer guarantees on the processing times of travel authorisations. It is advised to apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before boarding the plane to the US. Generally speaking, regular applications are processed and granted the same day. Are you flying to the US today or tomorrow and still didn’t start an application? Submit an urgent application right away. Urgent applications are often approved within an hour
How can I submit an urgent application?
Submitting an urgent ESTA application is done the same way as submitting a regular application. You fill in the regular application form, and indicate that you wish to apply for it with urgency by checking the box "Urgent delivery".
What are the costs for applying for an ESTA?
The ESTA application cost is £49,95 for regular applications, with an added £17,50 per person for urgent applications. Urgent applications are on average processed in 60 minutes, and are meant for travellers that want to board a plane or boat to the US within 72 hours after the application.
How can I pay for the cost of my ESTA?
Paying for the ESTA application cost can be done easily through Visa, MasterCard, American Express or PayPal. These payment methods are reliable, safe and very fast. You won’t need to factor in time waiting for the transaction to complete; this happens immediately. Other than the standard ESTA cost, no additional costs, such as transactions costs, will be charged when ordering through this website.
Do I need to apply for a seperate ESTA for my children?
Yes, each traveller to the USA needs to possess their own ESTA, regardless of the age. Each traveller also needs to possess a passport in order to submit an application. It is therefore not possible to travel to the United States with a child if it is only included in your passport. You are required to arrange a passport for your children before applying for an ESTA.
How long is the ESTA valid for?
From the moment that it is granted, the ESTA is valid for two years, unless the passport with which the ESTA was applied for expires earlier. If a passport expires, the validity of the linked ESTA expires alongside it. When getting a new a passport, a new ESTA also needs to be applied for in order to travel to the USA. During the validity duration of two years, travellers are allowed to travel to the United States as often as they wish. However, each stay is only allowed to last a maximum of 90 days. It is theoretically possible to leave the United States and return immediately after in order to renew the 90 days staying duration, but this is not recommended. If you want to stay in the US for longer than 90 days, you can apply for a US visa.
Can I make multiple trips with a single ESTA?
Yes, during the validity period you can make an unlimited number of trips to the United States, provided that the passport with which the application was submitted is still valid.
Do I need an ESTA if I am on a transit through the USA?
Yes, even if you do not leave the airport in the United States, you are required to apply for an ESTA (or visa) for your transit.
Can I edit my application after submitting it?
This can be done up until you have made the payment. After paying for the ESTA, the application is processed right away, and it is in no way possible to edit the information in the application form, not even if you notice a mistake (like a wrongly filled in passport number). Instead of editing the application, you can submit a new one, which will need to be paid for anew as well.
Can I cancel my application?
After the payment for the ESTA has been received, it will be processed immediately. From that moment on, it is no longer possible to cancel an application.
Does an ESTA only work in the USA?
The ESTA can be compared to the eTA from Canada or the electronic variant of the India visa. More and more countries are deciding to introduce a digital variant of their regular visa, in order to know who exactly is entering the country.
What are the requirements to apply for an ESTA?
Travellers to the United States need to meet the following requirements to travel to the USA with a valid ESTA:
- You have not been in Cuba, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, North Korea, Iran or Iraq since 1 March 2011
- You possess the nationality of a country taking part in the Visa Waiver Program
- Your passport is valid for the entirety of your stay in the United States
- Your trip has a tourist or business purpose, or you are on a transit
- Your stay in the USA lasts a maximum of 90 consecutive days
- You possess a return ticket or a transit-ticket
- You are not planning to work or study in the US
- You are not planning to enter into employment in the US
- You are traveling with an airline that is part of the Visa Waiver Program
- You agree to waive any rights to review or appeal rejections
Can my application be rejected?
Your ESTA application can be denied if:
- It is revealed that you do not meet the requirements for an ESTA or US visa
- You filled in incomplete or incorrect information
- It is revealed that you intentionally filled in the form incorrectly or incompletely
- It is suspected that you pose a threat to the safety or law enforcement of the US
- You have been convicted of a crime or are awaiting charges or sentencing
- You are involved in an investigation of the police or another government body (inside or outside the US)
- You are excluded based on the Immigration and Nationality Act (212)
Is this the official website of the US government?
This website was brought into being to support travellers headed to the United States with getting an ESTA travel authorisation. Furthermore, this website offers a quick and easy to fill in application form, and a wide variety of payment methods such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and PayPal. This website, however, is in no way part of the government of the United States or of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is also possible to directly submit an application through the website of U.S. Customs and Border Protection ($14 per person). Benefits of submitting your ESTA application through this website are the use of our helpdesk, clear and concise explanations on how to fill in the form, automated checking of frequently made mistakes, and multiple payment methods for quick and easy payments. All this leads to a very high conversion rate of applied-for ESTAs, and a very low chance that an application will be denied or declared invalid. For this reason, many travellers to the US choose to apply for their ESTA through this website.