What is an ESTA and why is it required?

An ESTA registration allows citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to travel to the United States of America only with the electronic travel authorization and without applying for a visa at the US Embassy.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) give and authorize these electronic travel authorizations after checking whether the applying traveler is eligible for participating in the Visa Waiver Program or not.

This Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was introduced in 2007 in order to increase travel security and to fight terrorism.

Since September 2015, the US Homeland Security has determined to add additional information to the ESTA application form to improve the ability of the DHS to better check travelers and to better identify potentially dangerous travelers.



Three simple steps to get your ESTA Application

Step 1
Complete your ESTA Application

Apply now

Step 2
Make your payment
Step 3
Check your status


Requirements for applying for the ESTA

  • You are a national of one of the countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

  • You do not have a valid US Visa in your passport

  • Your stay does not exceed a total of 90 days at a stretch (multiple entry is as well possible with an ESTA)

  • You travel to the US only for touristic and / or business issues



Participating countries of the Visa Waiver Program

Citizens of the following countries are allowed to travel to the US with an ESTA, unless they also hold the citizenship of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen.

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



Overview of questions about ESTA

Why is the ESTA authorization required?

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was introduced by the US Homeland security to make it possible for nationals of participating countries of the VWP to travel to the US without applying for a visa at a US Embassy.
The complex procurement of a visa through the US Embassy is not necessary in this case, assuming it is a short stay and does not exceed 90 days.

Furthermore after the terroristic act of 9/11 the US Homeland security wants to sort out potentially dangerous applications by rejecting there ESTAs before they even board on a plane with the US as their direction.

It is recommended to apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before your journey starts. You could also apply for it shortly before you check in at the airport, but this might be risky as in some cases the authorization may take up to 48 or even up to 72 hours until the status is set to “approved”. You also may not have enough time for an alternative e.g. to apply for a “normal” visa. It is also allowed to make an ESTA application for a third person or to make a group application for up to 50 persons. If one person of the group does not get an approval this does not affect the other group members.

You can only apply for an ESTA if you travel to the US for tourism or for business issues. If the officer at the Border Control is not convinced of the travelers good intentions, he or she also may refuse your entry. In all cases you must be able to show enough money (cash or by credit/debit card).


Why is there an ESTA registration?

The new ESTA registration replaces the old forms that had to be filled in planes or ships.


How long is the ESTA valid?

From the day of approval, the ESTA authorization is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whatever comes first. In some cases, it also may happen that an ESTA is rejected after first having been approved.


I only have a transit stop in the United States; do I still need a valid ESTA?

Yes, American airports do not have specific transit areas as airports in Europe might have. This is why even a transit entry in the US is considered as a “normal” entry and a valid ESTA is absolutely necessary.


Since when is a permit in this form necessary for the United States?

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introduced the electronic travel authorization process by decree on November 07 of 2008.


How long before departure do I have to apply for the ESTA?

You can apply for an ESTA even a few minute before your check-in. But it is recommended to do the application at least 72 hours before your departure. Only then you might have a realistic chance to apply for a visa if the ESTA is not given.


How long does the processing of an ESTA take?

Usually the authorization is given very shortly after the application is done. You get a confirmation email from us with the ESTA in the attachment as a PDF document. It is recommended to print the form out and take it with you when you travel.


Can I make an ESTA application for a third person?

Yes, you can also make an application for friends, relatives, colleagues, employers, etc.


Are there other things to pay attention when applying for the ESTA?

Yes, there are many things that need to be filled in carefully. For example when your email-address is “ISIS@...” or “kkk@...” or other abbreviations that might be similar to organization that are mentioned in the media for terrorism and other bad things. The abbreviations in your email-addresses may have nothing to do with these organizations, but still the US Homeland security is very strict with the details in the ESTA. Things like these may lead to a rejection of your application.


I received my ESTA, what should I do now?

You are allowed to travel to the USA with a valid ESTA. From the day of its approval it is valid for 2 years or until your passport expires. You stay in the US may last up to 90 days at a stretch. This does not mean that you can only stay for 90 days during the whole validity, only one journey to the US must not last longer.

TIPP: Having a valid ESTA does not mean guarantee for your entry in the US. Only the Officer at the Border Control decides whether you are allowed to enter the US or not.


Is multiple entry allowed with an ESTA?

Yes, you may travel several times for up to 90 days to the US within the validity of your ESTA. Please be aware that you have to have a return ticket or a ticket that leads you into another country (accept Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean) and enough cash or a credit / debit card.

TIPP: Make sure that the purpose of your journey matches the requirements of the VWP visa-free travel. If you travel to the US in order to work or to study there, you have to apply for the corresponding visa.


Do I need a printout of my ESTA?

It is not required to have a printout, nevertheless it is recommended. There often might happen mistakes when applying for the ESTA, if you have a printout you can at least prove that you have done it and have gotten an authorization.


Do travelers need an ESTA also for a stopover?

Yes, even if you do not even leave the plane you must have a valid ESTA. Without an ESTA you are not even allowed to check in at the airport.


What do I have to be aware of when applying for an ESTA for children?

All children, no matter what age they have, have to have an own ESTA. The children need to have an own passport. In some countries (e.g. Germany) children get specific children’s passports, it is not possible to apply for the ESTA with these children’s passports. 

Apply now

We offer these services:

  • You do not have to register for an account
  • Quick processing times for your application – usually within 48 hours
  • Our multilingual supporters help you to solve problems with your ESTA
  • We provide a toll free service-phone
  • We check your details manually

Apply now

www.esta-immigration.us is a private provider for ESTA registrations.

You do not only get your ESTA authorization but can also make us of our different services. Our supporters check each application manually before processing the applications. This prevents errors in the application and difficulties at the US Border Control, e.g. formal errors.

Of course, you can also process your application without our help. Therefore, please visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. Please note that you cannot make use of our real-time support in this case.