What to Know About the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

ESTA Control

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, is a component of the United States Visa Waiver program. You are permitted to go to the US for up to 90 days.

As long as it's for a vacation or business travel, no visa is required if you use the ESTA automated system.

All nationals of nations with visa waivers, including the UK, are eligible to apply for a valid ESTA.

ESTA Ticket

A valid ESTA is not the same as a visa. When a visa is necessary, serving in place of one does not comply with legal requirements. Travellers with a current U.S. visa may enter the country on that visa for the specified reason. It is not necessary for travellers with valid visas to submit an ESTA application.

ESTA Approved

A successful ESTA Application is not a guarantee of admission to the United States, just as a valid visa is not a guarantee of entry. Other entry rules may prevent ESTA or visa holders from entering a country. These entry rules are another level of border protection.

Whether or not they have ESTA authorization, VWP candidates must submit a blue Customs declaration upon arrival in the United States. The green I-94W card is no longer necessary for VWP travellers to complete.

Who Needs the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)?

ESTA Airport

You will require an electronic system for travel (ESTA) if:

• You're visiting the US as a citizen of the UK or another nation exempt from visa requirements.

• The journey is for business or pleasure, and it lasts 90 days or less.

• You don't already have a visa to enter the United States.

• The journey will be by cruise ship or aeroplane.

Keep in mind that you'll need an ESTA even if you're just passing through the US to board a ship or aeroplane to another country. Border protection is serious business, and there is no space for assumptions when enforcing border control.

Since October 1, 2022 you require an ESTA if you're entering the US by land from Mexico or Canada.

Applying for the ESTA Visa Waiver Program

ESTA Stamp

A single person or a group of two or more people may apply online for an ESTA Visa:

• Utilize the ESTA website to submit an online application

• You will require a valid passport (or passports from nations that grant visa waivers), your home address, email, and phone number, as well as the phone number and email for emergency contact. This can also be an e-passport. You might also be asked for other details, such as the name of a contact in the US and your travel itinerary if it's necessary.

• Save the application number so you can monitor the progress or make changes to your ESTA information.

• Payment after completing the ESTA application directly through the ESTA website. It currently costs $21. If you use a travel agent, you will probably pay extra to apply for ESTA. You will receive the majority of your money back if your entry into the United States is denied.

• View the status of your application. You can make several journeys back to America within the two years after your ESTA application is accepted without needing to reapply.

You don’t need to print off or take your ESTA information with you when you travel – the automated system will send it to your carrier.

It’s up to you whether you update your travel information on the ESTA system for future trips.

Visa Waiver Program Requirements

ESTA Passport

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of member nations to visit the United States for up to 90 days on business or vacation without obtaining a visa. You can take multiple trips.

Visa Waiver Program Requirements

ESTA Travel

There are currently 40 VWP countries. These are:

• Andorra

• Australia

• Austria

• Belgium

• Brunei

• Chile

• Croatia

• Czech Republic

• Denmark

• Estonia

• Finland

• France

• Germany

• Greece

• Hungary

• Iceland

• Ireland

• Italy

• Japan

• Korea Republic

• Latvia

• Liechtenstein

• Lithuania

• Luxembourg

• Malta

• Monaco

• Netherlands

• New Zealand

• Norway

• Poland

• Portugal

• San Marino

• Singapore

• Slovakia

• Slovenia

• Spain

• Sweden

• Switzerland

• Taiwan

• United Kingdom - Only British residents have unlimited access to the countries of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man for permanent habitation.

It should be noted that the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 stipulates that whenever the laws of the United States refer to or relate to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or other similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with respect to Taiwan. This applies to all references to "country" or "countries" here.

ESTA Preparations

As a result, Taiwan is included in all references to "country" or "countries" in the Visa Waiver Program's enabling statute, Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1187. This is in line with the one-China policy of the United States, which has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.

If they are applying for entrance with passports from the new countries Curacao, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba, and St. Maarten (the former Netherlands Antilles), they are not eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

Passport Requirements

ESTA Waiting

A Visa Waiver Program is only available to people who have passports that have a specific set of security characteristics. The requirements for the Visa Waiver Program are:

• The biographic page of the valid passport must feature a machine-readable zone.

• It needs to be electronic and have a digital chip with the owner's biometric data on it.

All travellers must possess an e-passport as of April 1, 2016, in order to use the VWP. An upgraded secure passport with an implanted electronic chip is known as an e-Passport, and it is identified by the symbol.

E-Passports must adhere to international standards for protecting and storing data related to the passport and bearer in order to be issued by the appropriate passport-issuing authority.

Requirement for Digital Photographs

ESTA Photo

All nations participating in the Visa Waiver Program are required to issue passports with a digital photo printed on the data page; otherwise, their nationals will need to apply for a visa in order to visit the United States. An image from a digital camera is printed on the page as opposed to being adhered or laminated to the passport. It resembles the picture on the right.

You can still travel without a visa even if your passport lacks this function if:

• You hold a current passport with a machine-readable zone that was issued before October 26, 2005, and you are a citizen of a nation that joined the Visa Waiver Program before 2008.

• You have access to an "e-Passport" that has a built-in computer chip that can store biographic data from the data page, a digital photo, and other biometric data.

If your passport was issued on or after October 26, 2005, and it doesn't match the criteria listed above, you'll need to get a visa.

Machine-Readable Passports

ESTA Machine

All nations that participate in the VWP must print a machine-readable zone on all passports they issue. A machine-readable passport features the bearer's photo and two lines of text at the bottom of the personal information page in the form of letters, numbers, and chevrons (<<<).

You have two choices if this feature is missing from your passport:

• Obtain a new passport that meets the requirements of your nation of origin issues them.

• Acquire a visa.

If you have any concerns concerning your nation's production of a valid e-Passport, please get in touch with your passport-issuing organization or the embassy of your country.

Updating Your Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

ESTA Update

Your ESTA will typically be good for two years. Additionally, you need a fresh ESTA if you:

• Obtain a fresh passport, including a backup or temporary one.

• Change your name or gender.

• Your citizenship has changed.

• Need to modify any "yes" or "no" answers you provided on the ESTA application.

Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015

Travellers in the following categories must apply for a visa before entering the United States. This is because they are no longer qualified for VWP according to the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015:

• VWP nationals who entered or were present in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea after March 1, 2011, or who have since left those countries. This comes with limited exceptions for diplomatic or military travels in the service of a VWP country.

• Citizens of VWP nations who are also citizens of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

These people may submit visa applications through routine appointment procedures at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They are prepared to process visa applications quickly for anybody who needs them for an emergency trip to the US.

Emergency and Temporary Passports

The passport must be an e-passport if you enter the US on the VWP using an emergency or temporary passport. This includes visitors using the VWP who are passing through America.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

• Can an Individual Apply for a Visa Instead of ESTA?

Yes, if you wish to do so or if you are not eligible to travel under the VWP, you may apply for a tourist (B) visa. Furthermore, if you intend to travel by private jet or another non-VWP-approved air or sea carrier, you must apply for a visa.

• What Does the Esta System Say About Trips to Canada, Mexico, or Nearby Islands?

If you are admitted to the US under the VWP, you can often return to the US under the VWP for the remaining 90 days of the first 90 days given upon your entrance into the US after a brief journey to Canada, Mexico, or a nearby island. As a result, your entire stay-including the brief trip-must be no longer than 90 days.


Applications for the electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA) that have been approved are good for two years, or until the traveller's passport expires, whichever occurs first. They are also valid for multiple travels to the US without the need to reapply. You are only permitted to visit the United States with an approved ESTA for up to 90 days at a time, and you should leave enough time between visits so that the CBP Officer does not suspect that you are attempting to establish residency.

The electronic system for travel authorization will be valid until the passport's expiration date for VWP travellers whose ESTA applications are granted but whose passports expire in less than two years. Border protection is serious business, and faulting while seeking travel authorisation can be a drag.