Frequently asked questions about the ESTA application

If it is your first time applying for ESTA, you may have several questions in mind. Read on as we address a few pertinent aspects in this regard.

Who is entitled to ESTA?

The first and foremost requirement for applying for ESTA is that you must have a binding e-passport from a country on the US VWP (Visa Waiver Programs) list. There are 39 countries on the VWP list, including the UK, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, New Zealand, Greece, and Austria, among others.

Besides being a citizen of a country on the Visa Free Program, you qualify for ESTA if you do not hold a visitor visa, are travelling for tourism, transit, or business and your intended stay duration is not more than 90 days.

When do I need to apply for a new ESTA?

An approved ESTA application is valid for two years; you will have to apply again once the two-year window is over. Other instances that require a new ESTA application are given under:

  • If your passport is expired and you get a new one
  • There is a change in your surname, forename, or your gender
  • If your citizenship status changes, i.e., you become a citizen of a different country
  • If the status of questions answered on your ESTA application changes, i.e., you are convicted of a crime or have travelled to a restricted country.

Do I need an e-passport for ESTA?

To apply for ESTA, you must have an e-passport, i.e., the biographic page of your passport has a machine-readable chip that contains your information. If you have an old passport that is not machine-readable, you will need to get an e-passport before applying for ESTA.

Do we need to get an ESTA for children?

ESTA is a must for everyone, regardless of age. If you intend to travel with family, including children, you must apply for ESTA individually for every member.

How much time does it take for an ESTA application to be processed?

It usually takes three days or less for an ESTA application to be approved, provided all goes well with the screening process. Therefore, it is recommended to submit the application at least three days before you intend to travel.

What to do when I receive my ESTA?

Once your application is approved or denied, you will receive an email reflecting the same. You must bring the passport along through which you applied for ESTA to the airport or port on the day of travel. While you do not officially need to bring a copy of the ESTA application, some airlines may require you to do so.

How long is the ESTA valid for?

ESTA is valid for two years once approved. However, if your passport happens to expire before the two-year ESTA validity period, your ESTA will expire as well, and you will need to reapply.

It is also important to note that the border control staff may as a few questions when you arrive in the US, even when carrying ESTA. The ultimate decision to allow admission into the US lies with the US border control.

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