Travel Preparation

ESTA for USA travels

When travelling to the United States of America, you need to get ESTA approval. ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. On the official US website, it’ll cost you US$14 and must be processed at least 72 hours before departure to your holiday destination in the USA. Here, we gathered the most important information about ESTA.

What is ESTA and how do I get it?

Every person travelling to the United States of America needs to fill out the ESTA form, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. You can do this here: official ESTA website. The ESTA is for travellers that are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). It checks the data entered by you and determines whether your travel poses a threat to law enforcement or a security risk to the USA.

You need to apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before flying in order to receive your ESTA approval on time. Only if you have a valid ESTA, you are allowed to board a plane to the USA. Although in most cases, the ESTA approval only takes a few minutes, in some cases it might take longer – we recommend you to be on the safe side and fill out the form a couple of days before your travel starts.

Please keep in mind that the ESTA is not a travel visa and therefore not a guarantee to enter the country on arrival. If you already have a valid travel visa to the USA, you don’t need to apply for an ESTA. Even if your flight is to another destination but you have a flight change at an airport of the USA, you need ESTA approval as you’ll board a plane to the US.

The most important things to know about ESTA

Don't Be Conned

There are hundreds of scam websites trying to make you pay up to seven times the amount the ESTA actually costs. Don’t fall into the traps – only apply for your ESTA directly on the official government website of the USA, which costs US$14. On this page, you can also check your ESTA status after you’ve applied.

ESTA Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for a new ESTA, you need to be eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (Australians are eligible) and your purpose to travel to the USA needs to be business or holidays. You do not plan to stay in the country more than 90 days and you currently don’t hold a visitor’s visa.

What You Need To Apply

When applying on the official ESTA website, all you need at hand is your passport, a credit card or PayPal, your contact information and latest employment information (if applicable). Once approved, your ESTA is valid for two years (for multiple entries) or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

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