The ESTA application form
The ESTA application form is the first step in order to fly to the USA. Filling in the form can be easily done online. Next, it will be assessed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. This generally takes a few hours, and a confirmation of approval or rejection follows.
What is the ESTA form?
The ESTA form is meant to gather information about all travellers wanting to fly to the USA. Because filling in the form and uploading a photo of the passport are mandatory, the immigration service of the USA knows at all times who wants to come to the United states, and an assessment can be made about the potential risks involved with allowing someone entry. Unwanted visitors can be refused before they can enter their plane. It is only possible to check in for flights to the USA after the information filled out in the ESTA form has been checked and approved.
Preparation for filling in the form
During an ESTA application, multiple travellers can be filled in on a single form. If so desired, an approval can be applied for for an entire travel group at once. This way, a lot of overlapping information (like address information and the staying place in the USA) do not need to filled in again each time. It is therefore wise to gather all the right information beforehand, and then submit a group application. A group application can be filled in through the same form used for an application for a single person, by pressing the button at the bottom which says “add traveller”. Gather these documents and information beforehand:
- The passports of all travellers, or at least the information in them
- The employer information of all travellers (name and address)
- Information about the possible presence of serious transmittable diseases
- Information about the possible presence of addictions and/or use of narcotics
- Information about the possible presence of a criminal record
- A clear, sharp photo of the passport information page of each traveller
Start filling in the form
First, you open the ESTA form by pressing the button below:
You will then see the following page, where the date of arrival and the e-mail address of the applicant can already be filled in. After filling it in, press the green button “ESTA Application".
Step 1: General information
The ESTA form begins with a number of questions about general (contact) information of the applicant. The applicant is the person filling in the form. The applicant does not have to go on the trip themselves, they can also fill in an ESTA form for someone else.
Step 2: Travel information
Next, general questions about the trip to the USA are asked. This concerns information which applies to all travellers for whom an ESTA is being applied for in this form, including a contact person in the USA, the (first) overnight lodgings and an emergency contact. You are also asked for an expected date of arrival; if this is not yet known, you can fill in an estimated date of arrival. The validity of the ESTA starts the moment the application is approved, so if your travel date is expedited, that will not be a problem (provided the ESTA has been approved). If this information is not the same for all travellers, they need to fill in seperate forms. If the trip is only for a transfer or transit in the US, this can be indicated on the form; the irrelevant questions will then immediately disappear from the form. Don’t have a contact person or place to stay in the USA yet? Then you can fill in "Unknown" in these fields. It does not matter in which country your emergency contact lives (this does not need to be the home country or the destination country).
Step 3: General information traveller
This part of the form consists of questions about the (first) traveller. The passport information and personal information can be copied from the passport. Take note: this passport needs to be valid for the entirety of the stay in the USA. This is the most important part of the ESTA-form; if any mistakes are made here, this can have grave consequences for the trip, or even make it so the trip has to be cancelled.
Step 4: Other questions per traveller
Next, the traveller will be asked if they have any other names or aliases. This does not include baptismal names. The second person-specific part of the questions also consists of questions about the parents of the traveller, a possible second passport or second nationality of the traveller, and employer information. It is also important to write down old passports here, even if they have already expired. If the traveller currently does not have an employer, the former employer and their address needs to be filled in.
Step 5: Safety questions
The purpose of the ESTA is to safeguard the United States and its inhabitants. To this end, a number of safety questions, also known as background questions, have been put in place. In these eight questions, the traveller is asked for any possible factors that might pose a risk. It is important to closely read these questions before answering them. In case one or several questions need to be answered with "yes", an ESTA cannot be applied for for this particular person. It might still be possible to apply for a visa. Read more about the choice between a visa or an ESTA. Take note: if a question is wrongly answered with "no", the US immigration service will notice this, and likely ban the traveller from ever entering the USA again.
Add a traveller
After all of the above mentioned questions have been answered for the applicant (and first traveller), it is possible to add a second traveller. The questions that are described at step three to five need to be answered for each added traveller.
After all of the questions in the form have been answered, click "Apply for ESTA". You will then see a summary page with all the filled in information. It is important to double-check everything, and correct any possible mistakes. A number of checks are also performed automatically, so that commonly made mistakes are quickly tracked down and reported, so that they can be amended straight away. Subjects like the passport number and the exact name of the traveller are of extreme importance; if any (spelling) mistakes are made here, they can have serious consequences for the trip. After submitting the application, the cost for the ESTA need to be paid.. This can be done online through various payment methods. Once the fee is paid, you can upload a scan or photo of the passport for each traveller on the form and your application will be processed as soon as possible.
Issuing of the ESTA
After you have received a confirmation that your ESTA has been granted, you will digitally receive your ESTA statement by e-mail. From now on, you can check in with your airline. It is not necessary to print the confirmation; checking takes place based on your passport number.
Start filling in the form right away?
Click below to go to the form: