What Is an ESTA?

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is often referred to as ESTA. This forms part of the United States Visa Waiver Program and allows people to enter the US without a visa for a maximum of 90 days. However, you have to be coming to the US either for a business trip or a holiday. People from all over the world, including the UK, can apply for an ESTA. The US Customs and Border Protection Visa Waiver requirements page has the list of countries that are part of this program. Keep in mind that once you are in the US as part of the Visa Waiver Program with an ESTA, you may not extend your stay beyond the initial period you were admitted for. Therefore, you need to leave the US before the date mentioned on your admission stamp, which you would have received when entering the United States.

An ESTA will also state whether your travel poses a security or law enforcement risk to the US. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization became mandatory on 12 January 2009. Upon arrival in the US, any Visa Waiver Program applicant must complete a blue customs declaration stating whether or not they have an ESTA authorization. Therefore, completion of the I-94W card by VWP travellers is no longer necessary.

Who Should Apply for an ESTA?

If you're planning a trip to the US, you probably want to consider applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization before a visa. You should opt for the ESTA route if:

• Your trip is 90 days or less.

• You do not currently have a visitor's visa.

• Your country is part of the Visa Waiver Program, and you are a citizen.

• You are planning a trip to the US for holiday or business purposes.

• You are arriving via cruise ship or plane.

• You need to apply for a new ESTA authorization, whether it be for one person or a group of two or more people.

Another important factor to take note of is the fact that you will still need an ESTA or visa even if you are only entering the US to catch a connecting flight or ship. Therefore, if you are a UK citizen and are planning on going to the US for business or pleasure, it is crucial to check the latest Visa Waiver Program entry requirements well in advance. This will give you enough time to get all the necessary documents in order and take care of any other important tasks or complications.

ESTA Plane

What Information Are You Required to Present?

If you are applying for an ESTA, you may need to present the following information:

• Your National ID or Personal ID number

• Your aliases or other names

• A valid passport

• Your employer's phone number and address

• Your Global Entry, SENTRI, or NEXUS ID number

• Your US point of contact name, phone number, and address

What Are the Passport Requirements to Travel Under the Visa Waiver Program?

In terms of the Visa Waiver Program, your passport must:

• Be an electronic passport with a digital chip that has all the passport owner's information

• Have a machine-readable zone of the biographic page

An e-passport is an enhanced secure passport that has an embedded electronic chip that has the same biographic information as the passport's data pages. This includes your name, a biometric identifier, date of birth, and more. Any country eligible for visa-free travel to the United States, such as the UK, issues e-passports with ample security features. This is to prevent unauthorised access or reading of the sensitive information stored on the e-passport's chip. While an e-passport may seem daunting, it has many benefits, such as the fact that they help to correctly identify individuals, protect privacy, and offer protection against identity theft.

In terms of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, all Visa Waiver Program travellers are required to have an e-passport. Therefore, if you're planning on applying for an ESTA and travelling to the US visa-free, this is crucial. If you do not have an e-passport, but rather a physical passport and would like to travel with an ESTA, you have to apply for an e-passport before your trip. Only once you have received the e-passport are you allowed to apply for an ESTA.

Furthermore, your passport needs to be valid for at least six months after you plan to leave the US. If you are travelling with your family, each family member, including your children and infants, needs to have their own passport.

ESTA Ticket

How Much Does It Cost?

At the time of writing, an ESTA application costs $21 in total, which is approximately £16,47 per person. The acceptable payment methods include PayPal, VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover (Diners Club or JCB only). If there is a group of people coming on the trip, the application fee can be costly. Therefore, it might be necessary to pay with a credit card. The fee will be charged in dollars; hence, you might want to contact your credit card provider to find out whether they will add additional charges for the conversion. This will allow you to plan appropriately. We as a third party website charge £39.17 for the whole ESTA Application process.

The ESTA fee is split into two components, namely a processing charge and an authorisation fee. Firstly, the processing charge is $4 and is charged in order for your application to be processed. The authorisation fee, on the other hand, is $17. This is charged if your application is successful and you are allowed to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. Therefore, if your application is denied, you will receive the authorisation fee of $17 as a refund; however, you will not be reimbursed for the $4 processing charge. You will receive a full refund when you fill out your ESTA Application with us.

How Do You Apply for an ESTA?

Whether you are applying online for an ESTA for one person or a group of people from foreign countries, you can follow these steps:

1. Present All Required Information

You need to have a valid passport from the UK, the Visa Waiver country. Other information you will be required to provide includes your phone number, email address, home address, and the phone number and email address of your emergency point of contact. At times, you might be required to provide other information, such as your travel plans as well as a US contact and their contact details.

2. Take Note of Your Application Number

After submitting your application, you will receive an application number. Make sure to take note of this number, as you will use it to update any information or check your ESTA status.

3. Make Payment

If you apply directly on the ESTA website, you will pay the $21 fee. However, if you are using a third party website to assist you with the process, you can expect to pay more. Remember that if you are refused admission, you will receive a refund of this payment.

4. Check Your Application Status

Now, all that is left to do is check your application status. Once it gets approved, it will be valid for two years or until passport expiration date, whichever comes first. This means you can travel to the United States whenever you like during this time - you will not have to reapply for an ESTA.

ESTA Application Check

When Do You Apply for an ESTA?

Even though your application may be approved or processed immediately, the official ESTA guidelines recommend you apply at least 72 hours before traveling to the US. This way, you will be able to plan in advance and have sufficient time to deal with any unexpected delays or complications.

What to Do If Your Application Is Rejected

Unfortunately, there are circumstances under which your ESTA application might get rejected. If this is the case, you will have to apply for a non-immigrant visa. This can be a time-consuming process as you will have to schedule an appointment with the US embassy and go to them in person. Thus, it is highly recommended that you book your appointment well in advance to avoid any disappointment.

Who Is Not Eligible to Travel to the United States Under the Visa Waiver Program?

In terms of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, the following parties are not eligible for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization and need to obtain a visa before travelling to the US:

• Any VWP country national who was in or travelled to Cuba on or after 12 January 2021, unless it were for military or diplomatic purposes in the service of the VWP country.

• Nationals or VWP countries who were in or travelled to Iran, Iraq, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, or Yemen on or after 1 March 2011, unless it were for military or diplomatic purposes in the service of the VWP country.

• A national of a VWP country who also happens to be a national of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Sudan.

However, anyone in these categories may still go to the US Embassy or Consulate and apply for a visa using the regular appointment process. The US Embassy or Consulate can expedite the process if you urgently need a visa to travel to the United States. Individuals who entered one of these above-mentioned countries for military or diplomatic purposes should not have their ESTA denied. If the ESTA application gets denied, you may contact the CBP Information Center or visit the CBP website. Another option is to go to the US Embassy or Consulate and apply for a nonimmigrant visa.

What Is the Difference Between an ESTA and a Visa?

As a UK citizen, an ESTA and a visa may grant you access to the United States; however, they are not the same. An electronic system for travel authorization does not have the same legal status as a visa. This means that it does not override or replace any legislation that requires an individual to have a visa. Anyone who has a valid visa does not need to apply for an ESTA and will be allowed to travel to the US for the reason the visa was issued in the first place.

Final Words

An ESTA, issued under the US Visa Waiver Program is a way to allow individuals to travel into the US without a visa and strengthens the security of travel in the US. Anyone who is a national of a VWP country may apply for an ESTA unless specifically prohibited by the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act. In order to apply for an electronic system for travel authorization, head over to the online website and fill in the required information. The system will generate your application immediately and provide you with a valid ESTA if you are eligible.


How Long Does an ESTA Last?

Your ESTA is valid until the earlier of your passport expiration date or two years. However, keep in mind that if you renew your passport within the two-year ESTA validity period, you will have to submit a new ESTA application.

Is There an ESTA App Available?

If you are applying for an ESTA or would like to check the progress of your application on your phone, there is an Android and iOS app available.

What Do I Do If I've Left the Application Process to the Last Minute?

The first thing you need to do is stay calm. After taking a deep breath, head over to the official website and fill in the application form. If you're lucky enough, you will get approved immediately. However, if you do not get an approved ESTA and do not have a visa, you will not be allowed on your flight or will get turned away at customs.

Can I Renew my ESTA?

Unfortunately not. If your ESTA expires and you're planning another trip, you will have to submit a new application.

Do You Need to Present Any Paper or ESTA Details at the Airport?

No, fortunately, all ESTA information will be sent automatically to the relevant carrier. Therefore, you will not have to worry about an additional admin burden before your trip. If you would like to update any of your details for upcoming or future trips, you are free to do so on the ESTA system. This decision is completely up to you. However, you will need to get a new ESTA if:

• You get a new passport - this includes a temporary or emergency passport.

• Your country of citizenship changes.

• You change your name.

• You change your gender.

• Your circumstances change - for example, you contract a contagious disease or are convicted of a crime.

• Any of your answers to the "yes or no" questions on the ESTA application form change.

For more information please visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/faq?lang=en