ESTA Online
Electronic System for Travel Authorization
The Electronic System of Travel
Authorization (ESTA) is a computerized online process that determines the eligibility of persons visiting the USA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The Travel Authorization via the ESTA does not determine the admissibility of a traveler to the USA, the US Customs, and Border Protection officials determine whether the traveler is admissible upon the visitor arriving in the United States. The Electronic Visa Application collects the traveler’s biographic data and answers the eligibility questions. The ESTA applicants may submit their travel requests any time before traveling; however, it is recommended that visitors should apply as soon as they start preparing for travel to the USA or at the time they are purchasing their airline tickets. Remember that you must be a holder of a passport from the eligible countries to apply for the advance visa, which is exclusively available online.

As from January 12, 2009, all travelers benefiting from the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will be required to obtain an electronic travel authorization before visiting the United States either by air or sea.

The Visa Waiver Program applies to passengers traveling with an electronic passport issued by the following countries:
Andorra
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Brunei
Chile
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Monaco
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Portugal
Republic of Malta
San Marino
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Korea
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
United Kingdom


Passports issued by these countries must be e-passports and can be read by a scanning device. Depending on the place and date of issue, the e-passport must also include a digitized photo ID and an electronic chip. If in possession of a temporary or emergency passport that is not electronic, you cannot travel under the Visa Waiver Program. You must then apply for a visa before travelling to the United States.

ESTA is not a visa.
ESTA is merely an authorization prior to travel

Consequently, the Department of Homeland Security recommends that travelers receive their ESTA at least 72 hours before departure.

Prospective travelers to the USA under the VWP must meet the following requirements:
  • Be citizen of a country benefiting from the VWP
  • Short stay for tourism or business
  • Hold a valid passport
  • Use an airline or ship company approved by the US government and hold full return fare or showing the final destination if transiting through the USA
  • Assuring exit from the USA within 90 days after entry
  • Obtain the ESTA permission

With an electronic travel authorization, you may travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, but this does not constitute a guarantee of entry into the United States. Upon your arrival in the United States, you will be monitored at the border by an immigration officer, who may refuse your entry under the Visa Waiver Program or under a section of U.S. law. The refusal to grant you an electronic travel authorization does not prevent you from seeking a visa to enter the United States.

ESTA authorizations are valid for 2 years or until the expiry of the passport if it does so before the 2 year validity period.

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