Allow us to introduce our ultimate guide to ESTA USA – the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. We will take you through each step of the ESTA application one by one. Our guide points out pitfalls and helpful facts. Reading through our guide will take you 15 minutes of your precious time but in return, you will know exactly how to handle the ESTA application.
You are already familiar with ESTA USA or have already submitted an application and a more specific question?
Lets start with the guide to your USA ESTA. First of all we need to answer the most important question:
Do You need an ESTA?
You can answer this question with our ESTA in a Nutshell infographics within a few moments.
What you will need to successfully submit your application
Now that you have checked your eligibility, you are ready to start with the USA ESTA application process. But first, you should make sure that you have all needed documents ready at hand.
- Valid passport (copy of passport saved on your hard disk can be useful, so prepare one if you can)
- Working credit card with enough balance to pay 14$ USD processing fee
- Travel date
- Address of a place where you will stay during your trip
- Address of a place of contact inside the U.S.
- Email address with mailbox to which you have full access
When you have prepared everything, you are good to go.
Start a new ESTA USA application
Let’s start with the first step of our USA ESTA guide, starting a new application through the website of US Customs and Border Protection at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
The process is very straight forward. You can start a new application by clicking on the big blue button “NEW APPLICATION” which takes you a bit further down the page and asks you if you want to start a single or group application.
Since in this guide we do only want to apply for a single visa for an individual person, click “INDIVIDUAL APPLICATION”
A popup will appear, asking you to confirm the security notification of the ESTA USA system. Since the text is quite long and since you won’t be able to proceed with your application without clicking “CONFIRM & CONTINUE” anyway, we will summarize it for you:
A lot of disclaimers and privacy policies that leave you no choice – that’s a tough start isn’t it?
DHS (Department of Homeland Security) informs you that when entering the ESTA application form, all entered data and your behaving in general while visiting the website will be monitored. The most important sentence in this is “There is no expectation of privacy when you use this computer system” which sums it up clear and simple. You can stop the application process by clicking “CANCEL & EDIT” however, this means you won’t be able to apply for an ESTA. You alternative is a tourist visa (B1) which will require you to take part in a complex application process including personal interviews. Important: Your data being shared within the process of a regular tourist visa application will still be shared with DHS and other US authorities.
Our opinion: Since the whole ESTA process is about security checking foreign visitors, it is logical that all data is being stored and monitored. This includes checking your IP address. Since there is no real way around it anyway, we suggest that you confirm and accept DHS’s privacy note and proceed with your application.
After confirming, you are redirected to the first page of the ESTA application form. There is still some bureaucracy to be dealt with. First disclaimer’s content can be summarized the following way:
All data that is being entered into the ESTA USA application form will be manually and automatically checked (also by using law enforcement databases). The decision about your approval or rejection will be based on the provided data. A rejection does not mean that you won’t be able to travel to the U.S. however, you will need to apply for a regular visa. An approval does not necessarily mean that you will be allowed to enter the U.S. border police can still reject you during passport check. You also agree to not break certain rules that are applied while traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (Take a look at the paragraph after “WARNING”).
Declare that you have read and understood the disclaimer by checking “Yes, I have read and understand the information and agree to these terms”.
A second disclaimer will pop up displaying information about the Travel Promotion Act of 2009. This disclaimer is mainly about the fee that will be collected during your application process. If you check “Yes, I have read and understand the information and agree to these terms.” You agree to the following conditions:
• You will be charged 14$ USD in case your application gets approved
• You will be charged 4$ USD in case your application is being rejected
• Your ESTA for USA will be declined (even if it was approved before) if your payment is being charged back (due to insufficient funds or because of you performing a chargeback).
• Your ESTA processing fee will never be fully refunded by CBP (Customs and Border Protection)
After agreeing to this second disclaimer, click “NEXT” to proceed to the application form starting with the first section “Applicant Information”.
Important: Most form fields accept UNKNOWN as a placeholder in case an applicant does not know the answer to the corresponding question. Make sure to use it whenever you do not know how to answer a required question. Unknown is also available as option within some of the dropdown selectors built into the form.
ESTA application form section 1: Applicant information
You need to provide your full family name. In case you have several names, enter those that are displayed inside the machine readable part of your passport. If your name contains special characters or umlauts, also check how your name is written inside the machine readable part and enter it into the text field using the exact same spelling.
Same as family name. Always take your passport’s machine readable part as reference.
Choose your gender. Currently it is not possible to enter something else than “Male” or “Female”. If both does not apply, choose the term that you feel more comfortable with or check your passport for reference. You will have the possibility to explain when being checked at the airport.
If you are known by any other names, list them inside the alias fields. You do not have to note your maidens name.
Enter your date of birth. If you do not know your date of birth, take the one that is noted on your passport.
Enter your city of birth. If you do not know where you were born, enter UNKNOWN.
Enter your country of birth.
ESTA application form section 2: Passport information
Enter your passport number. Take the machine readable part of your passport as reference. The passport number is displayed within the machine readable number as well as on top of your passport data page. Double check your passport number. Your ESTA, once approved, will be linked to your passport number. If you mistype this number during your application process, your ESTA will not be linked properly and you could get in trouble during border control.
Enter the date of issuance of your passport.
Enter the expiry date of your passport.
Enter the country of your citizenship. This can be found on your passport.
Enter the country that issued your passport. The issuing country is the same as the country of citizenship. Don’t get confused if you received your passport while staying in a foreign country. In such cases, passports are issued by the embassy or consulate located in the foreign country. If you receive your UK passport from the UK embassy in India, the passport is still considered as issued by United Kingdom.
Enter your national identification number. This number is only issued by a few countries and can be found on your national ID card. If you do not have a national ID but the corresponding text field is required for your citizenship, enter UNKNOWN.
Same applies as for national identification number. If you do not know your personal identification number, enter UNKNOWN.
You will be asked if you are in the possession of additional passports. If so, select “YES” and answer the following questions.
Which country issued your additional passport.
Describe the type of document. Is it a passport or a national id card?
Enter the number of your document. In the case of a passport, this could be the passport number, in the case of an ID card, this could be a national identification number.
Indicate when the additional travel document will expire.
CBP has implemented a nice little feature that allows applicants to fill in personal and passport data a lot easier. All you have to do is click the big blue button reading “Upload your passport”
ESTA application form section 3: Other citizenship / Nationality
If your answer is “yes”, you will have to provide more information on your additional documents.
For which country do you hold an additional travel document? Select the appropriate country.
Indicate how you were able to require that additional citizenship.
This question is not only about current additional citizenships but also about additional citizenships that you held in the past.
Indicate which additional citizenship you have owned in the past.
ESTA application form section 4: GE membership
The CBP Global Entry Program allows approved applicants to pass passport control a lot faster by performing a so called “fast check-in”. They will not be questioned or controlled by border police but can instead bypass passport control by using their PASSID / membership card at the CBP check-in terminal.
You can find this number on your CBP membership card.
ESTA application form section 5: Parents
ESTA application form section 6: Your contact information
Enter your street and house / civic number.
Enter your address extension if you can supply one.
Enter your apartment number if you can supply one.
Enter the city of your permanent residence.
Enter the state of your permanent residence.
Enter the country of your permanent residence.
Choose the type of phone number you wish to provide as contact number.
Choose the matching country code (country dial code) and enter your phone number.
Enter your E-mail Address. Make sure that you have unlimited access to this mailbox, also check the spam folder for messages from CBP. You will not receive a confirmation mail in case of an approved ESTA however, you will receive reminder as soon as your ESTA is about to expire.
Re-enter your E-Mail Address. This is for verification reasons.
It might happen that your ESTA application does not accept your phone number and / or address. This is due to the attempt of CBP to validate certain data. It can be very frustrating trying to edit the data to get it accepted by the application form however, there is a little trick that allows you to bypass this (sometimes very unpleasent) feature of the ESTA application form
ESTA application form section 7: Social Media (optional)
If you wish to, you can provide information about your social media appearance however, this is not required and considering your data privacy, our advice is: don’t provide any data.
ESTA application form section 8: Employment information
You must indicate whether or not you are employed at the moment or if you were employed in the past. CBP is especially interested in this information because it gives a good impression about if you intend to take up work inside the U.S. (which of course is forbidden).
What is the title of your job? Examples could be: Dentist, Teacher, Programmer
Provide information about your employer. What’s the name of the company you are working for?
Enter the address of your employer (address of the company).
Enter an address extension if there is one available.
Enter the city where your employer’s business is located.
Enter the state / province / region where your employer’s business is located.
Enter the country where your employer’s business is located.
Provide a phone number of your employer.
ESTA application form section 9: Enter Travel Information
If you answer this question with “yes”, the application form will be reduced by 2 questions that ask for your point of contact inside the U.S. as well as for the place where you will stay. If you are passing by on transit during your first visit but intent to stay inside the U.S. during a later trip, you can still answer this question with “yes”.
If you have indicated that your travel is not occurring in transit to another country, you will have to provide information about your point of contact inside the U.S. If you do not have a point of contact, you can either enter “UNKNOWN” or enter information related to the first hotel / accommodation where you will stay.
ESTA application form section 10: U.S. point of contact information
Enter the name of your contact person, this can also be a company name.
Enter the address (street and civic number) of your point of contact.
Enter an address extension if you can provide one.
Enter an apartment number if you can provide one.
Enter the city of your point of contact.
Enter the state of your point of contact. If you do not know the state, select “UNKNOWN”
Enter the phone number of your point of contact. If you do not know the phone number, enter “0000”
If you have indicated that your travel is not occurring in transit to another country, you will have to provide information about your point of contact inside the U.S. If you do not have a point of contact, you can either enter “UNKNOWN” or enter information related to the first hotel / accommodation where you will stay.
ESTA application form section 11: Address while in the U.S.
If you check this handy little box, it will fill out all fields of section 9 with the exact same data that you have used for your point of contact (including “0000” and “UNKNOWN” if used)
Enter the address (street and civic number) of your address while in the U.S.
Enter an address extension if you can provide one.
Enter an apartment number if you can provide one.
Enter the city of your address while in the U.S.
Enter the state of your address while in the U.S. If you do not know the state, you can select “UNKNOWN”
You will have to provide information about your address while staying inside the U.S. If you do not have an address, you can either enter “UNKNOWN” or enter information related to the first hotel / accommodation where you will stay.
ESTA application form section 12: Emergency contact information in or out of the U.S.
Enter the family name of a person that should be contacted in case of an emergency during your trip to the U.S.
Enter the first (given) name of that person.
Enter an E-mail address under which that person can be reached.
Enter a phone number under which that person can be reached.
ESTA application form section 13: Eligibility questions
This final part of your ESTA application is about very sensitive information. Please know that you should answer all question with “no” in order to get an approved ESTA status however, the questions must be answered truthfully at the same time. If your answer to one of the following questions is “yes”, you should contact CBP or the nearest U.S. embassy / consulate, explain your case and kindly ask about how to proceed. Be honest and correct about eligibility questions. In most cases, CBP will be able to determine whether you answered truthfully. Knowingly lying about an eligibility question can lead to a permanent travel ban.
Do you have a physical or mental disorder; or are you a drug abuser or addict; or do you currently have any of the following diseases (communicable diseases are specified pursuant to section 361(b) of the Public Health Service Act):
Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers, including Ebola, Lassa, Marburg, Crimean-Congo
Severe acute respiratory illnesses capable of transmission to other persons and likely to cause mortality.
Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority?
Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using, or distributing illegal drugs?
Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?
Have you ever committed fraud or misrepresented yourself or others to obtain, or assist others to obtain, a visa or entry into the United States?
Are you currently seeking employment in the United States or were you previously employed in the United States without prior permission from the U.S. government?
Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa you applied for with your current or previous passport, or have you ever been refused admission to the United States or withdrawn your application for admission at a U.S. port of entry?
Have you ever stayed in the United States longer than the admission period granted to you by the U.S. government?
Have you traveled to, or been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011?
ESTA application started with disclaimers, it ends with them as well
Now that we have answered all questions we are almost finished with the application process. All that is left is agreeing to some more disclaimers as well as paying the processing fee of 14$ USD.
First agreement is related to the “Waiver of Rights”. You must certify that all information provided by you during the application process is true and correct.
The second agreement is optional and must only be checked by third party services that apply for someone else. This also includes individuals applying on the behalf of family members or friends. Even if an application was submitted by a third party, the applicant is still responsible for it as well as for the validity of all provided information.
It is time to review our ESTA application
Now it is time to review the whole application once again. Make sure to double check crucial data. Here is a list of what should be considered as crucial:
- Your full name
- Your date of birth
- Your citizenship /nationality
- Your passport details
- Your Contact details (especially your E-mail Address)
Most of this data is being checked during passport / border control using your passport. If there are any discrepancies between the data of your USA ESTA application and the data of your passport, things could get troublesome. Don’t expect border police to discuss the subject. Since U.S. immigration rules are comparable tough, there is a higher chance of being seated in the next flight back home than successfully persuading border police staff.
Confirm your data by clicking “Confirm & Continue” four times for all four sections of your application form and finish the review process by entering some of your personal data once again:
- Passport Number
- Issuing Country
- Family Name
- Date of Birth
The USA ESTA application payment
After successfully validating your data, you will be redirected to the status check page of your ESTA application. Your application will not be reviewed until you successfully paid the processing fee. From time of submitting your application to status check page, you will have 7 days to pay the fee. If you do not pay within these 7 days, your application will expire and you will have to fill out a new application.
To pay the processing fee, check the disclaimer box and click on “Pay now”. Select the payment method and click “proceed“.
During the payment checkout you will have to provide the following billing details:
- Billing Address
- Billing Address 2 (optional)
- ZIP/Postal Code
- Account Holder Name
- Card Number
- Expiration Date
- Card Security Code
Important: Once you execute the payment by clicking on “submit payment”, there will be a loading sequence notifying you about the processing of payment. DO NOT navigate forth or back using your mouse or browser navigation. Do also not refresh the site by typing f5 or the refresh button of your browser.
The payment sequence can take up to 30 seconds and should not be interrupted. Once the payment sequence is finished, you will be redirected back to the status check overview. Your application will now show “pending” status. Usually your status will change to “approved” within a few minutes. You can either hit f5 every now and then to refresh the page or come back later to check if your status has changed.
How do I check if my ESTA for USA was approved?
If your application was pending for a longer time and you got disconnected from status check page, you can get back by performing a regular status check. To do this, follow our ESTA status check description:
Once the ESTA status check page shows approved status for your ESTA, you should print out a copy of the approval and take it with you when heading out to the U.S.
We discussed the ESTA application in detail and by now you should know how to fill out your own application however, there is a lot more to know about ESTA. Since ESTA is being used by millions of people every year, a lot of specific questions have popped up since ESTA for USA was established. Our ESTA USA FAQ covers a lot of these questions and it is being extended frequently. If you have a quesion that is not yet covered by our FAQ, feel free to submit it to us using email@example.com We will try to answer the question and add it to our FAQ.
ESTA USA FAQ
- ESTA and Visa Waiver Program
- ESTA application
- ESTA data protection
- ESTA rejection
- ESTA validity
- Passport related questions
- Travelling to the US
Yes, since your ESTA for USA is always connected to your passport number, ESTA system will not find any approved application when checking your new passport during border control / airpor passport check. Your passport number is always unique and connected to one document. It does not stay the same when applying for a new passport. That being said, a new USA ESTA application must be filled out using the new passport’s data to be able to travel to the US using the new passport.
ESTA currently has no gender X to choose from in the application. It is suggested that the traveler chooses the one that he feels most comfortable with. USA ESTA will not only be rejected because of the gender chosen in the application and in case this part of your application is being questioned, you will most likely have the chance to explain during border control.
The applicant should choose the country that issued his passport. It is important to note that the geological location of the issue is not important, but the country to which the authority that issued the passport is linked. For example, if your passport was issued by the German Embassy in France, you should answer the question with “Germany”.
That depends. You must apply for USA ESTA if you intend to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. However, ESTA is not required if you are travelling by land or if you already hold a valid regular tourist visa. If you are planning to stay in the United States for more than 90 days or were previously refused entry, you will need to apply for a regular US visa (B1 / B2 tourist/business visa). There are several other reasons why you may not be able to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.
No, Kinderreisepässe (children passports issued by German authorities) are not comparable to regular e-passports and do not meet the requirements of the USA ESTA. If your child does not yet own a regular e-passport, you should apply for one in order to be able to submit an ESTA application on your child’s behalf. Note that this takes several weeks so make sure that you start your passport application in good time.
Your passport needs to meet certain requirements in order to be used for your ESTA application:
- The passport has to be an electronic passport (e-passport) marked with an e-passport logo.
- The passport needs to have a digital chip containing biometrics.
- The passport needs to have a machine-readable zone containing the passport number as well as other dates.
- The passport needs to be a regular passport issued by one of the VWP countries.
Some VWP countries including Germany issue “Minor Passports” (e.g. in Germany this is called “Kinderreisepass”). As long as these kind of passports match the requirements of a regular electronic passport, they can be used for applying for an ESTA however, this is only rarely the case and applicants will have to provide a regular e-passport (Kinderreisepass is not usable for ESTA applications, parents need to apply for a regular passport for their children).
No. Every VWP passenger must have an approved ESTA for the passport they wish to use to travel to the United States. When travelers purchase a new passport, they must submit a new ESTA application for their new passport. If you have two passports issued by two VWP countries, you can choose either one to use for your ESTA application however, you have to make sure to take this exact passport with you on your trip. If you have to passports with only one of them issued by a VWP country, the same applies. You will have to apply for your ESTA using the VWP country passport and also take this one with you.
Your passport data can only change when receiving a new passport. As soon as you are using a new passport, make sure to also apply for a new ESTA which will replace the old one. The entry permit connected to your approved ESTA is linked to your passport number which changes with every new passport you receive. If you try to enter the US with your new passport without having applied for a new ESTA, border control will not find an approved ESTA when checking your passport.
Since April 2016, the American DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has made the following requirement on passports: For travel under the Visa Waiver Program, they must be electronic. Machine-readable passports are no longer sufficient. Unlike the electronic passport, the machine-readable passport does not have a chip.
The data will be stored on protected media for two years. They are then archived. In some cases, for example, if the passport expires before the regular ESTA USA validity expires, the storage period may be shorter.
Yes, Pay.gov uses 128-bit SSL encryption to protect your transaction information while you are logged into Pay.gov. In addition, all account numbers that you have set up in your profile are encrypted before they are stored in our database. When you access your profile, all account numbers you enter are hidden on the screen; each account number in your profile is displayed as a group of asterisks followed by the last four digits of the account number.
This website is the official ESTA application website run by the US government (CBP – Customs and Border Protection). It is secured by https which makes its content and all interaction with it encoded. In addition CBP states that its website is secured by newest technology security measurements to ensure that your data is protected at all times
The information can be shared with other US authorities. The DHS also reserves the right to share data with foreign authorities if needed. In case your ESTA application is rejected, the information of your application will be shared with the Department of State in order to allow it to make a decision about whether or not the applicant should be able to receive a regular visa. Information from within your ESTA application is not shared with airlines however, an airline receives information about whether your ESTA application was rejected or approved.
The data you are providing during your ESTA application process is collected and stored by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The information is shared between all US authorities that need to know it professionally. CBP ensures that all data is being secured by high standard security measurements and that the data itself is protected and subject to U.S. laws and regulations. This means your ESTA application data is more or less as much protected as data that you provide to any other US authority.
If your application was rejected, it is very unlikely that officials will share information about the cause of the rejection with you. Most of the decisions are done at least semi-automated. This means that US government has set up measurements that allow them to tell if a person is likely to be a threat to internal security. That being said, getting rejected during the ESTA application process also means that it is very unlikely that this decision will be reconsidered. If you are rejected, the best thing to do is start an application for B1/B2 visa and try to reason for your case during a personal interview.
If one of your visa applications has been denied in the past (regardless of category) or you have been refused entry to the United States or deported from the United States, your ESTA application is likely to be denied. If the reason for the previous rejection does not apply any longer, it is possible that you could get an entry permit. In most cases, you will have to apply for B1 or B2 visa since ESTA relies heavily on automated background checks that will lead to rejection.
ESTA applications are often rejected due to simple errors such as misspelled names, strange contact details that seem suspicious or false passport data. These are some of the most common reasons for a rejected ESTA application:
- You have lied about some things while answering one or severa of the ESTA application questions.
- You have exceeded the allowed length of stay during a previous visit and didn’t leave the country on time (stayed longer than 90 days).
- You used a passport number that was reported as lost or stolen.
- You have worked illegally in the USA. Be particularly careful about this topic. While some measures such as “reaching out to someone during one or two working days to help them with their work” can be considered helpful in some countries, this could be interpreted as taking up employment in the US. Be especially careful not to do anything in return for payment.
- You have been denied a visa or entry to the USA in the past and conditions as well as personal circumstances haven’t changed.
All mandatory fields in your ESTA application must be completed. Otherwise you won’t be able to even submit your application. However, there are some questions which only have to be answered if certain conditions apply. You could be incorrect about these conditions to prevent answering the connected questions. Although CBP does not explicitly state that an unfilled mandatory field will result in the rejection of your application, there is a high probability that this will be the case, especially if CBP finds out that you were untrue about certain things just to bypass questions.
No. If you have previously been denied entry, you must apply for a visitor’s visa before you can travel to the United States. You must have a B-1 visitor visa or a B-2 tourist visa. You can apply by filling out a DS-160 form and making an appointment at the nearest US embassy. Take into consideration that the application process takes several weeks and costs at least 100$ USD.
The government of Australia has a similar programme to the ESTA, the Electronic Travel Authority, where travellers intending to visit Australia can apply electronically via the Electronic Travel Authority website.
Some goods, valuables, cash and securities are subject to special import restrictions in the United States. Baggage can be opened by customs officers and checked for prohibited items. In order to avoid long waiting times at customs and unpleasant surprises, you should know exactly what may be carried under which conditions.
Cats and dogs must be free of any signs of disease transmissible to humans when examined at the port of entry. If the cat does not appear to be healthy, the owner may have to pay for an additional examination by an approved veterinarian. Dogs may require rabies vaccination If you are taking your pet to the U.S. on an airplane, you should check with the airline about animal transportation requirements. Many airlines require a health certificate from a veterinarian. Please visit the U.S. Customs Questions and Answers page for more information.
You are NOT allowed to bring fresh, dried or canned meat or meat products from most countries. In addition, you are not allowed to import food prepared with meat. It is best not to bring fresh fruit or vegetables to the United States. For more information, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/travel/ or www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/permits
You may bring one liter (33.8 fl. oz.) of alcoholic beverages to the U.S. if you are 21 years old, if you are intended for your own use or as a gift, and if you do not violate the laws of the state where you arrive. Federal regulations allow you to bring more than one liter of alcoholic beverage for personal use, but you must pay duty and tax for the IRS.
You can bring as much money into or out of the country as you want, even by mail. But if the total amount is more than $10,000, you must note it on your customs declaration when you arrive. Ask the customs officer for the currency report form (CF 4790). The penalties for non-compliance can be severe.
If you have questions about U.S. Customs regulations, visit the U.S. Customs website at http://www.cbp.gov.
Since January 12, 2009, all VWP travelers must obtain a travel authorization through ESTA before they can travel to the United States under the VWP.
Actually you can’t extend your ESTA’s validity. Instead you can apply for a new ESTA and replace the existing one. If your previous ESTA application was approved and if your personal background hasn’t changed much, it is likely that your new application will also be approved within seconds. You will have to pay the processing fee once again of course, so it makes sense to only re-apply for ESTA if it is about to turn invalid.
The ESTA is valid for two years. It only loses its validity after these two years or if it is withdrawn from the holder or if the holder’s passport is renewed before the expiry of the two years. There is no problem if the ESTA expires during your stay in the USA, as it only needs to be valid at the time of entry. In this case you do not have to apply for a new ESTA. Be careful not to leave the USA and cross borders into Canada or Mexico. If your ESTA has expired, you cannot return to the USA without a new ESTA. If you try to do this anyway, you may be taken into custody.
In a few cases it can happen that the government recalls the status afterwards, but this is very rarely the case. It is a good idea in general to check if your ESTA is still showing valid status using the status check on official government’s website a few days before heading to the airport. This will ensure that you have enough time to talk to the authority in case your ESTA status should have changed.
It is important to understand that an ESTA permit is no guarantee of entry. The decision lies solely with the border guards at the airport of entry. The ESTA application waives the right to appeal against this decision. Before submitting your application, you have to agree to this condition. If you are rejected even though you are holding a valid ESTA there is not much you can do about it. Border police will not discuss the subject and it is most likely that you will have to board the next flight heading back to where you have come from.
Please do not use special character and umlauts such as ä, ö, ü and ß when entering your data – use “ae”, “oe”, “ue” or “ss” for this purpose. Most of the special characters are not allowed to be entered into the form. So if you do not provide different spelling, you won’t be able to complete your ESTA application.
That is correct – in the ESTA application there is no input field for the second first name. Instead you should add up all first names into the “given name” field. There is also the possibility to enter additional names under the category “Aliases”. To enable this section, you will need to answer the question “Are you known by any aliases” with “yes”.
The National Identification Number is the number of your id card. Not every country provides an ID card and not every ID card lists an identification number. This is the reason why the ESTA application form does not ask every citizen to provide the personal identification number. An answer will be required for some nationalities while it will be greyed out for other countries. There are some countries where the national ID question causes issues. If you are not able to provide an national id, just enter “UNKNOWN”. Providing UNKNOWN as answer will not affect your application negatively.
The Personal Identification Number is the number of your id card. Not every country provides an ID card and not every ID card lists an identification number. This is the reason why the ESTA application form does not ask every citizen to provide the personal identification number. An answer will be required for some nationalities while it will be greyed out for other countries. There are some countries where the national ID question causes issues. One country where this is the case is Germany. German citizens do not have a national ID, yet the question is required to be answered during the ESTA application. In his case, German users are advised to enter UNKNOWN as their national ID, which will be accepted by the government’s system. Providing UNKNOWN as answer will not affect your application negatively.
In some cases, it is essential that the ESTA has been renewed, even if it has not yet expired. This happens if the passport is renewed (for example, if it has expired or been lost) or if the name, country of residence, nationality or sex of the holder changes. Even if the personal circumstances of the ESTA holder change to such an extent that the security questions in the ESTA application (e.g. health or delinquency) would have to be answered differently than in the previous application, the ESTA must be renewed. Each new application will cost 14$ USD again.
The ESTA website invites applicants to check the data submitted for the entire application before submitting it. Once the application is complete, the applicant can print out the entire data set of the application also showing the ESTA status. DHS recommends that travelers print the ESTA response to capture their ESTA application number and be able to confirm their ESTA status.
If applicants enter the wrong date for issuing the passport or the expiry date of the passport and do not notice the error until after submitting the ESTA application, they will need to reapply for a new travel authorisation. The previous application is automatically overwritten. The associated fee will be charged for each new application submitted.
In most cases, you will receive an immediate response to your ESTA application.
However, there are also cases where the U.S. government will review your application more closely, extending the processing time. ESTA Pending Status means that your application and the information you provide is still under review. Check your status once again after a few hours, usually the further investigation of an application does not take longer than 24 hours. Unfortunately, it is not possible to speed up this process.
No, at the moment this is not possible. You have to fill out the form in one session. After you have completed it, it will be saved and you can view your details again later. You have a certain amount of time to pay the processing fee for your application if you did not do this during the initial submission. If you do not pay, your data will be deleted. Please also note that there is a maximum session time installed on the ESTA application website. If you spend too much time on it without any action, the website will disconnect your from the application process and you will have to start all over again.
If you have questions about a specific question, you can simply click on the tooltip icon right next to it. The creators of the online application form placed a tooltip with text (and sometimes also with helpful info graphics) next to almost every question that should explain how to answer it. If you need more information, try to search our FAQ for an answer.
To do this, you have to do exactly the same steps as for the status check of your ESTA application: go to the official website https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/, click on “Check existing Application” or “Check individual status” and then verify your registration number, date of birth and passport number via ESTA. After successful login you will see the ESTA approval, which you can print out again or save as a PDF file.
You can easily recover your ESTA application number. Go to the official website of the U.S. agency: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ Then navigate to the Status Check and enter the required data to view your ESTA approval. Note that there are two ways to do this. You can query the status with or without the ESTA application number. If you cannot find the application number, select “I do not know the application number” and enter the required data. If your ESTA has been found, you will also see the application number in the following overview.
On the official website you can login and check the status of your ESTA application. You will need your ESTA registration number, date of birth and passport number for verification. The ESTA USA status will then be displayed.
If you are not able to provide your application number, you will need the first name, surname, passport number and the country that issued the passport as well as the date of birth of the applicant.
You can only change the destination address in the USA and the email address – all other fields can not be changed and edited after a successful submission.
A small part of the information in your ESTA application can be changed afterwards. You will need to perform a status check to do this. As soon as you see your active ESTA approval in the overview, you can change the travel date as well as the expected whereabouts in the USA. This is two less relevant dates from the ESTA application. Important data such as name, passport number or passport data cannot be changed afterwards. If you accidentally made an error when entering the data, you must apply for a new ESTA. The existing ESTA will then simply be overwritten with the correct data. The processing fee will be due again in full for a new application.
Our recommended time to complete the ESTA form is 4 weeks before you start your trip to the US. This will give you enough time to provide further information in case the authorities require more time to review your ESTA application. If your application is rejected, it can take several weeks to apply for an alternative type of visa. This is one more reason to act on time.
On the recommendation of the US authorities, the ESTA form should have been completed and submitted at least 72 hours prior to check-in
YES, It is recommended that you apply at least three days prior to departure and provide an address for your stay in the USA, but this is not mandatory.
Travellers under the Visa Waver Program do not need to include exact travel plans and plans for their stay in the U.S. in their ESTA application. So you can apply for an ESTA before you know it. The relevant questions can always be answered with “UNKNOWN”.
Yes, there is no application for families.It is possible to submit all applications at once using a group application however, you still will have to fill out one application per person. Children and minors do need a regular ESTA too and there is no price reduction for the processing fee.
No – even if one of the ESTA applications is still pending, this will not affect the other applications of the group. They will all be dealt with separately. You will need the group id of the group application to be able to check the individual status.
The application form is automatically transmitted to the authority once it has been completed in full and the processing fee has been paid. No further documents need to be uploaded or submitted to separate authorities. Read more
All you need to complete the ESTA form is a computer with a 128-bit browser. All common browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari) meet the requirements to apply for an ESTA online. Of course you also need working internet connection as well as a working monitor, keyboard and mouse to interact with the application form. You do not need to print out anything, so a printer is not required.
It takes a maximum of 20 minutes to complete an ESTA form. If you have all the necessary documents at hand (passport, credit card), you can complete it in 10 minutes.
When participating in the Global Entry Program, you can carry out passport checks yourself at selected airports in the USA. This is done at specially set up Global Entry stations and is intended to make your identity checks easier and, above all, faster. To take advantage of this, you must register in advance for the Global Entry Program (costs $100). A GE membership is valid for 5 years. During the application process you will have to pass a security check and you will need to register biometrically.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is administered by DHS and allows eligible citizens or nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. The electronic travel permit that a person travelling under the Visa Waiver Program receives is called ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)
Which countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program?
Citizens or nationals of the following countries are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP:
- Czech Republic
- France (France)
- Germany (German)
- Republic of Korea
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- United Kingdom*
With respect to all references to “country” or “countries” in this document, it should be noted that the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Pub. L. No. 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides that “[w]henever the laws of the United States refer to or refer to foreign countries, nations, states, governments or similar entities, include these terms, and these laws apply in relation to Taiwan. 22 U.S.C. § 3303(b)(1). Accordingly, all references to “country” or “countries” in the Visa Waiver Program, which approves the legislation, Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1187, are read to include Taiwan. This is consistent with the one-China policy of the United States, according to which the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.
The ESTA website provides detailed instructions on how to use the online help function. In addition, a third party, such as a relative or a travel agent, can submit an ESTA application on behalf of an applicant.
It depends on how serious the misdemeanor was. Small offences do not appear in international crime databases. It may nevertheless be the case that an application is rejected despite a comparatively minor offence. In such cases, a regular visa must be applied for. During the application process, a personal interview is held in which the applicant can comment on the offence. If there are serious criminal offences with a conviction, this can be a reason for a permanent refusal of entry.
If an ESTA expires before the traveler leaves the United States, the traveler is not required to apply for another ESTA. However, the traveler must apply for a new ESTA for future travel.
You can call the CBP Info Center at (202) 325-8000 or 1-877-227-5511. The CBP Info Center can only answer general questions about ESTA. If you want to know why an ESTA application was rejected, or if you have specific questions about your ESTA application, you must apply to the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. Please note that your contact will only be able to understand and answer questions in english language.
No. DHS notifies carriers of a passenger’s ESTA status. However, DHS recommends that passengers print the ESTA response as a record of their ESTA application number to confirm their ESTA status.
A third party, such as a relative or visa service, can apply for an ESTA on behalf of the traveler. A third party may also pay the associated fees on behalf of the traveller. The traveller is still legally responsible for the replies submitted on his behalf.
The information for the ESTA application must be entered in English. The computer that submits the ESTA application should be configured for the U.S. language with an appropriate English font for keyboard input. The online application form won’t accept foreign letters and spellings.
If your computer’s operating system is Microsoft Windows 95 or later, you can select the keyboard layout manually.
Using a private service to apply for a travel authorization or ESTA does not speed up the approval process. Such websites advertise their services with additional benefits such as personal support or priority processing. While it can be a good thing to talk to a real person when it comes to further questions about your application, most of these special services are not worth the money and you should therefore apply through the government’s website.
The ESTA application is intended for a stay of up to 90 days. If you want to stay longer in the USA, you need a visa.
Eligible citizens or passport holders of Visa Waiver countries require either a visa or an ESTA travel authorization to visit the United States of America. If you are merely transiting to another country and will not be staying in the United States, answer the ESTA question “Is your U.S. entry only for transit to another country” with “Yes”. “In transit” does not mean, however, that the traveller may not leave the airport.
Foreign citizens who wish to stay in the USA for longer than the regular 90 days often travel to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean for a short period in order to be able to spend another 90 days in the USA after their return. Please note that there were also travellers who experienced issues when trying to get back to the USA including being taken into custody for several days. It is especially important that you make sure your ESTA is still valid when re-entering the US.
Yes, even those who change their flight on American territory and whose final destination is not in the USA need the ESTA document. After their arrival in the USA, they are checked by officers of the American Border Police (Customs and Border Protection). The personal travel documents are checked before the onward journey to the actual destination is permitted. There is a question inside the ESTA application form asking about whether or not you are staying for transit only. If you answer yes, some additional questions won’t be asked and your will be able to finish your application a bit sooner.
No. If your stay in the USA does not exceed 90 days, you do not need to contact the embassy. However, you must submit an ESTA application online. You cannot board a plane to the USA without the ESTA approval. You do not have to attend to a personal interview when applying for ESTA.
VWP passengers travelling without an approved ESTA will be denied boarding.
Although CBP recommends that you register at least 72 hours prior to travel, you can register at any time before boarding. In most cases, you will receive a reply within seconds of submitting an application. Please note that there is no way to increase the speed of processing your application. Therefore, service providers that claim that they can get your ESTA with extra speed are not be trusted and do not deserve to be paid extra fees. The fastest way to receive an ESTA is to apply directly through government website.
All VWP passengers arriving by US aircraft or ship, regardless of their country of origin or port of embarkation, require an ESTA. No matter where your flight to the USA departed from, you must present a valid ESTA before departure and during border control.
No. ESTA is only required for citizens or nationals of VWP countries.
ESTA visa USA stands for Electronic System for Travel Permits. The ESTA system operates under the Visa Waiver Program and covers 38 countries whose citizens require an ESTA travel authorization to enter the United States.
These requirements apply only to non-U.S. citizens. American citizens do not require any travel documents other than their American passport to enter the United States. Therefore, if you are an American citizen, you do not need an ESTA to travel to the United States. In fact you are not even able to apply for an ESTA since you won’t be able to select USA as main nationality during the application process. If you select USA as additional citizenship during the application process, it will be aborted.
Every day millions of people cross the border of the United States of America. Both American citizens and foreigners must complete the customs declaration.
In addition, foreign citizens must complete the I-94 form. However, almost all travellers who are citizens of a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are exempt from this requirement. During Check-in, your passport will be checked to see whether or not an ESTA or different visas are approved and valid. Border protection officers will make a final decision about whether or not you are allowed to enter the U.S.
Yes, the US government charges USD 14.00 per application. Our processing fee includes the application fee of $14.00 paid to the US Government.
The ESTA is another legal entry permit that differs from the non-immigrant visa (B1/B2). Depending on the applicant’s nationality and aptitude status, one of the two permits will have to be presented to the customs and border guard when entering the United States.
B1/B2 visa holders do not need to submit an ESTA application, as a valid visa meets all the requirements of American Customs and Border Protection and is sufficient to pass through passport control.
There are several answers from the authorities that you can see during a status check of your ESTA application. Your application may be approved or rejected, or the decision may still be pending. Depending on the answer, you should proceed differently.
The ESTA form is applied for online. The cheapest and safest way to get it is via the official ESTA form page of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Authority.
The form asks for personal data such as place of birth, date of birth, passport number and validity, address or destination in the USA and some other questions.
The ESTA form is an online application form with various questions that needs to be filled out and completed online.
Normally, an ESTA is approved in the first minutes or hours after successful payment of the processing fee. In certain special cases, however, this may take significantly longer.
The authorities recommend at least 72 hours in advance. However, if you plan to visit the USA, it is advisable to apply as early as possible. If your travel authorization is denied, you must apply for a visitor’s visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Sometimes appointments are difficult to reach and can take weeks.
The ESTA travel document can be applied for online.
The applicant must enter some personal information and answer some questions about the applicant’s health and reasons for travel.
The personal information requested includes age, sex, passport details, address and place of work and any previous convictions.
It depends on the citizenship. The electronic entry permit ESTA for the USA is available for almost 40 countries. See Visa Waiver Program States. Read more
It depends on the duration and purpose of the trip. The ESTA is a tourist and business visa and only intended for a stay of 90 days per visit, other visas are also for working or studying purposes and support a longer stay. Read more
No. An ESTA or a valid visa only allows you to travel to the United States. Upon arrival at the airport, all passengers are checked by the American Border Guard “Customs and Border Protection”. The officers then decide whether to grant them a stay in the country. Read more
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system that helps determine eligibility for travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and whether such travel poses a risk to law enforcement or security. Upon completion of an ESTA application, a traveler is informed of his or her authorization to travel to the United States under the VWP. Read more
Not really. Although the ESTA document is commonly known as the “ESTA visa”, in reality the opposite is true: it allows foreign visitors who do not wish to immigrate permanently to travel to the United States without a visa. Read more