Frequently Ask Questions

What is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)?

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an online system developed by the US government to pre-screen travelers before they depart for the United States. Nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries will still be eligible to travel without a visa but will have to obtain an approved travel authorization prior to their travel to the United States.

When do I need to apply for travel authorisation?

Applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security recommends that travel authorization applications be submitted at least three days prior to travel. Unless revoked, travel authorizations are valid for 24 months from the date of authorization, or until your passport expires (whichever comes first).

Does ESTA guarantee I will be able to enter the US?

An ESTA travel authorization makes you eligible to travel to the US, but it does not guarantee admission. Only a Customs and Border Protection officer at your port of entry into the US can grant final admission.

Who needs to apply for ESTA?

All travelers entering the United States (by air or sea) under the Visa Waiver Program are required to hold a valid ESTA travel authorization. ESTA allows the United States Department of Homeland Security to pre-screen all Visa Waiver Travelers before they leave their respective countries.

What is the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa Waiver Program is a U.S. government program that allows citizens and nationals from selected countries to enter the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. The benefit of using the Visa Waiver Program to enter the United States is that you can travel to the United States on short notice without obtaining a visa.

Do I need to bring a paper printout of my travel authorization to the airport?

No, you don’t. DHS will be able to communicate your ESTA status to the carriers. However, DHS suggests that you print out the travel authorization application response in order to maintain a record of your authorization application number.

What should I do if he or she is not approved for travel through ESTA?

If you receive a ‘Travel Not Authorized’ response to your ESTA application but wish to continue with your travel plans, please visit for additional information about applying for a visa. The non-authorisation of an ESTA application only prohibits travel under the Visa Waiver Program and is not a determination of eligibility for a visa to travel to the United States.

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