ESTA Essentials

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was introduced in 2009 as part of the Visa Waiver Program. It is used to determine the admissibility of travellers from certain visa-exempt countries to the U.S. The ESTA is not a visa; it is an automated system that once approved is electronically linked to your passport.

While the ESTA allows you to travel to the U.S., it does not guarantee entry to the U.S.; entry into the U.S. is determined by the Customs and Border Protection.

An approved ESTA allows visitors to travel to the U.S. via air or sea for the purpose of tourism, business or transit.

An approved ESTA is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. It allows for multiple travels to the U.S., and stays for up to 90 days at a time. Travellers are advised to allow a reasonable to time between trips to avoid suspicion that they intend to live in the U.S.

You do not need to re-apply for re-entry as long as your ESTA is valid.

Citizens, including non-ticketed infants, from one of the following countries included in the Visa Waiver program require an ESTA:

  • Andorra
    Australia
    Austria
    Belgium
    Brunei
    Chile
    Czech Republic
    Denmark
    Estonia
    Finland
    France
    Germany
    Greece
  • Hungary
    Iceland
    Ireland
    Italy
    Japan
    Latvia
    Liechtenstein
    Lithuania
    Luxembourg
    Malta
    Monaco
    Netherlands
    New Zealand
  • Norway
    Portugal
    San Marino
    Singapore
    Slovakia
    Slovenia
    South Korea
    Spain
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    Taiwan
    United Kingdom

To apply for an ESTA, simply click on the Apply NOW button and complete the application by providing all requested information. It is advisable to have your passport available when completing your application.

You may apply as an individual or as a group by clicking on the Add Application button. Upon completion you must review your information for all applicants to ensure accuracy then make your payment. Once payment is made your application will be automatically submitted to the U.S. government as is for processing. A final decision will be rendered by the U.S. government.

An ESTA application is normally processed in less than 24 hours. However it is advisable to apply at least 72 hours before your intended travel date in case there is a delay in processing your application.
The cost to submit your application is between US$49 - US$69. This cost includes Travel ESTA service fees as well as the government fee of USD$14.00.

An ESTA is valid for two (2) years once issued, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

If your ESTA was revoked, it is no longer valid.

Yes, you can apply on behalf of the traveller(s) as long as your have their permission and correct travel and contact information.
A delay may occur if the information you entered is incorrect or if your application was selected by the U.S. government for further processing.
You may use the CHECK NOW button to verify that an ESTA has been approved on your behalf. You may also visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website to verify your ESTA.

No, you do not need to print your ESTA confirmation letter as proof of a valid ESTA.

If you wish to have a copy of your personal records, you may print and retain a copy.

You are required to review and confirm your details prior to submitting your application. Once your application is submitted you cannot change or update your information. If, for example, you entered the incorrect passport number, you will need to submit a new application. See also “My ESTA was not approved” for more information.
If you have a valid visa, you do not need to apply for an ESTA. You may use your visa to travel to the U.S. for the reason under which the visa was granted, e.g. tourism, business etc.
Once your ESTA is processed and granted it cannot be cancelled. Your ESTA is valid for two (2) years or when your passport expires, whichever comes first, therefore you can use it at a later date.

Entries

If you a citizen from an eligible countries under the Visa Waiver Program, an ESTA is required if you plan to enter the U.S via air or cruise ship.

If you plan to enter the U.S via land vehicle, you do not need an ESTA. However you may need to complete the necessary paperwork at the border crossing in order to enter the U.S.

If you plan to enter the U.S via ferry from either Vancouver or Victoria, BC, Canada, you do not need an ESTA.

If you are entering the U.S. via a private ship or boat, you do not need an ESTA but you will need to ensure that you have the correct visa prior to arriving.

Yes, if you a citizen from an eligible countries under the Visa Waiver Program, and transiting through the U.S., you will need to apply for an ESTA.

Renewals

You can check the status of your ESTA by using the Check ESTA Status page.
No, the ESTA is non-transferrable. Therefore, if you obtained a new passport before your ESTA expired, you will need to apply for a new ESTA.

Complications

If you have a criminal conviction, even if it is not spent, you should answer truthfully to the eligibility question. CBP will determine if you meet the admissibility factors to enter the U.S.

If you have one of the following medical conditions, you should answer Yes on the application:

  • Cholera
  • Diphtheria
  • Tuberculosis, infectious
  • Plague
  • Smallpox
  • Yellow Fever
  • Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers, including Ebola, Lassa, Marburg, Crimean-Congo
  • Severe acute respiratory illnesses
  • Syphilis, infectious

If you have a communicable disease, CBP will determine if you pose a threat to the welfare of others and if you are admissible to the U.S.

If your application was denied, you may try reapplying if your circumstance has changed. DO NOT enter false information in hopes of qualifying as this may result in you being deemed permanently inadmissible under the Visa Waiver program.

If the results of your ESTA application is Travel Not Authorized, this may not mean that you are inadmissible to the U.S. Instead you may need to apply for a non-immigrant visa, e.g. tourist or business visitor visa.

If you need to travel immediately, you will need to contact your nearest embassy or consulate.

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