Apply for an official ESTA

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US ESTA application

ESTA Guide - How to Get Your ESTA!

Anyone travelling to the USA needs valid travel authorisation. British nationals usually need only an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) to enter the United States. In our ESTA Guide, you will find out whether you are eligible to apply for an ESTA, how you can get one, what you need to look out for, what requirements you must fulfil and how to avoid mistakes.
Do you need an ESTA? We will explain step by step what an ESTA is, where you can apply for one and what in particular you need to watch out for. If you are ready to make an application, simply order here.

The 6 most important points about ESTA:

  1. You MUST make an ESTA application, even if you are just a transit passenger

    Anyone travelling to the US needs travel authorisation, such as a valid ESTA. Even if you are only transiting though the USA, you still need to apply for an ESTA. Find out here (requirements) whether you are entitled to apply for the ESTA and if you fulfil the requirements.

  2. You can submit the application online

    You will receive the ESTA approval by completing the form online, sending it off and paying. It is not a problem for a third party, e.g. a friend, a relative or an acquaintance, to submit the application on your behalf.

  3. Check the status before each trip

    An ESTA is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. However, before you travel, you should check whether your application is still active; it can happen that an application is subsequently declared invalid by the US authorities without notice.

  4. An ESTA cannot be extended

    Please note that a new application must be submitted after the ESTA expires. An extension or transfer to another passport is not possible.

  5. You will need an electronic passport

    Since April 2016, an ESTA application is only possible with an electronic passport. Look for the chip sign. Entry with a non-electronic or temporary passport is not possible.

  6. ESTA not possible with a children's passport

    Children not in possession of an electronic passport are not entitled to submit an ESTA application. Please ensure that your child receives an electronic passport instead of a child passport, otherwise a visa will be required.

ATTENTION! If you have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya or Yemen since March 1, 2011, or have dual nationality in one of these countries, you need a visa for the USA. In this case you are not entitled to submit an ESTA application.

What is an ESTA?

The ESTA is an electronic system that pre-entitles travellers to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) (What is VWP) without having to visit a US Consulate. It replaces the previous system for entry into the United States, in which a green I-94W form had to be filled out on the plane. The disadvantage of this was that one only learned at the time of entry whether could enter. The ESTA notifies you before you have even booked a trip.

An ESTA can be applied for by all nationals of countries participating in the VWP. If all requirements are met, you can simply print out your application, which is sent by us as a PDF file.

ATTENTION! Please note that possession of a valid ESTA does not guarantee entry into the US. US Customs and Border Protection officials ultimately make the decision of whether you can enter or not.

How do I get my application?

Fill out your ESTA

Submit the application

Pay for your application

Wait for confirmation

Print out your ESTA

To receive your ESTA application, you must complete the online ESTA form. To avoid any mistakes, please ensure that the data is entered exactly as it appears in your passport. In order that you can fill out your registration for the ESTA quickly and easily, please have the following data and documents ready:

  • Electronic passport
  • Personal details (including the names of the parents, address and contact data)
  • Identity card number
  • Information about current or former employer
  • Details about accommodation/abode in the USA (hotel, flat, address, telephone number)
  • Emergency contact details inside or outside the USA (name, telephone number and email address)
  • Credit card details

Third parties can also apply on your behalf; what is important is that the requested data is made available. You can also apply on behalf of your family or friends.

After we have received your application, our trained staff will check it for possible mistakes. If there is a mistake, we will contact you to correct it as soon as possible. Subsequently, the data is passed on to the US authorities. Once a decision has been made about your ESTA application, we will send it to you by email as a PDF file.

If your ESTA is approved, we recommend that you print it out and make a note of the application number, even if the ESTA is electronically retrievable and linked to your passport. If you do not have a printer available, we can send your approval by courier.

How far in advance should I apply for my ESTA application?

In principle, you should already submit the ESTA application before you have even booked a trip. If the application rejected, you would then still have enough time to apply for a visa and don’t run the risk of forfeiting a refund for you trip.

Most travel insurances consider it to be your own fault if a trip cannot be taken due to lack of travel permits.

If you have already booked your trip but do not have an ESTA, it is recommended to apply at least 72 hours before your departure, as it may take this long to make a decision about your application. If you have previously not had any difficulties with entry into or during your stay in the USA, a decision will often be made within a few minutes. However, this cannot be guaranteed.

EXPRESS: You can apply for an EXPRESS ESTA with us. Your application will then be treated as preferred, promptly checked and sent to you immediately after receipt of approval.

What do I do if my ESTA application is rejected?

If your application is rejected, you will usually need a ‘physical’ visa. We are happy to help you with this. Just call our free telephone hotline, and we will take care of the rest for you.

Reasons for rejecting an ESTA application could be the following:

  • You have answered yes to an authorisation request
  • You have dual citizenship in one of the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia
  • You have previously stayed in the USA longer than the allowed entry period.
  • You have once lost a previous passport or reported as stolen
  • You have given false information with your ESTA registration
  • You are in possession of an American green card
  • There are also other reasons, which not be not specified by the US authorities

How do I pay for my application?

You can pay your ESTA application with us by credit card or instant transfer. If you do not use any of the above-mentioned payment options, your application can also be paid by a third party, in the event that family or friends assist you.

Submit a new application – don’t extend!

If your ESTA application has expired or your details have changed, you must submit a new application. You cannot extend an ESTA. The following circumstances require a new application to be submitted:
  • you get a new passport
  • you change your name (first and/or last name)
  • you change your gender
  • you change your citizenship
  • your circumstances change. You are, for example, convicted of a criminal offence or get an infectious disease, etc. and would now have to answer one of the authorisation questions in the ESTA application with Yes

I already have an ESTA, where can I check my status?

You have not received any feedback on your ESTA application, or already have a valid ESTA and want to retrieve this again for your next trip?

If you have submitted your application to our service portal, please do not hesitate to contact us by email or phone. We will be pleased to resend your application – if, of course, it is still valid – with your name, your passport number and your date of birth.

If you have submitted your application to another portal, you can also use our ESTA Check Service. The following options are available for retrieval:

Enter the following details:

  • Passport number
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Surname
  • First names as they appear in the passport

If the ESTA Check is successful, we will send your ESTA approval by email. If the application has already expired or if no ESTA can be retrieved, we will of course send you a notification.

Does my child also need an ESTA?

Children of all ages need their own ESTA to travel to the USA.

ATTENTION! Please note that children can only apply for an ESTA if they hold their own electronic passport. Children’s passports issued or extended after 26 October 2006 and all children’s identity cards are invalid for visa-free travel to the USA – children holding these documents require a visa.

What should I do if I find a mistake in my ESTA authorisation?

If there is a mistake in your approved ESTA, there are several ways to deal with it, which depend entirely on what type of mistake was made.
  1. Mistake in your biometric data (passport data)

    If you have made a mistake when entering your personal details, such as name, first name, date of birth, place of birth, passport number, date of issue and expiration, nationality, these mistakes cannot be corrected for an already approved ESTA. In this case, you must submit a new application, as the existing one is invalidated by the mistake.

  2. Mistake in contact or employer details

    If you have made a mistake in your contact details, employer details, US contact or emergency contact details, this cannot be corrected, except for the email address. However, it is not so bad if these details need to changed, as no new ESTA application needs to be submitted.

  3. Error when answering authorisation questions

    If you have mistakenly answered yes to one of the eligibility questions and your ESTA was rejected, a new request can be made after 24h in some cases. Unfortunately, these are often also rejected, depending on the question. You can also raise an objection to the rejection, but please note that the review can take up to 6 weeks. However, if you lie and answer no to one of the questions even though it applies to you, this can lead to considerable problems with entry into the US for up to 5 years.

What is the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa Waiver Program is a programme for visa-free entry into the USA. Nationals of all countries participating in the VWP Agreement are, in principle, entitled to apply for an ESTA. Other factors are also significant in whether or not the ESTA is ultimately approved. It allows entry into the United States for tourist and business purposes with a stay of up to 90 days at a time.

Germany has been a member of the Visa Waiver Program since 12 January 2009.

Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program:

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

When am I entitled to ESTA and when not?

You are entitled to visa-free entry into the USA if you meet the following requirements:
  • You are a national of one of the countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program
  • You have your own electronic passport*
  • You have a valid ESTA
  • You are travelling to the USA by plane or by ship
  • You have a return or onward ticket which does not end in Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean
* It is recommended that the passport be valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure from the US. You are not entitled to receive an ESTA if:
  • You have double citizenship in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Libya or Somalia
  • You have visited one of the aforementioned countries since 1 March 2011
  • You answer one of the eligibility questions with yes*
*except for the question: “Have you had a US visa that you applied for with your current or previous passport withdrawn, or have you been refused entry to the United States, or were you denied entry to the USA upon arrival?” Have you had a US visa that you applied for with your current or previous passport withdrawn, or have you been refused entry to the United States, or were you denied entry to the USA upon arrival? - For this question, it is important to know how serious the reason for the rejection was; in most cases, the application is nevertheless approved after a longer period of review.