ESTA Application

ESTA Application

If you do not have a US visa and want to travel to the USA, then you are required to have an ESTA. If you fulfill the ESTA requirements, then you can apply for an ESTA. We recommend completing the online application carefully to avoid mistakes which may lead to your application being denied. Read below to find out what to look out for!

ESTA

The official travel authorization for your trip to the USA!

When do I need to apply for an ESTA?

There is no official deadline from the US authorities for applying for an ESTA. It is, though, highly recommended to apply for an ESTA at least 3 days before your departure to the USA. This is to ensure that by the time you enter the USA, you will be traveling with a valid ESTA. You should be able to show proof of a valid ESTA when checking-in to your flight at the latest.

You should apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before your flight to the USA.

The time for processing an ESTA is generally short and most applicants find out if their application has been authorized or denied within minutes. We recommend, however, applying for an ESTA as early as possible. Ideally, you should apply for your ESTA 6-8 weeks before your planned trip to the United States so that you have enough time to apply for a US visa if your ESTA is denied.

When can I book my trip to the USA?

Due to the risk of having an ESTA application denied, we recommend first planning your US trip (booking flights, hotels etc.) after your ESTA has been authorized. If you do not have families or friends in the USA, you can give the address of the hotel you plan to stay at in the USA.

How long does it take to complete an ESTA?

In general, it does not take long to fill out an ESTA application. If you already know where you will be staying in the USA and have your passport information on-hand, then it will only take about 20-30 minutes to complete the application thoroughly. Make sure you take the time to review all given data before submitting the application. 

Upload passport on ESTA form

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has updated the official ESTA website and starting from April 2018, it is possible to upload a picture of your machine-readable passport. By doing so, the biographic information saved in the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) will be automatically entered into the ESTA form.

image machine readable zone of passport

The Machine Readable Zone (marked in red) of your passport must fit in the photo completely so that your data can be read correctly.

 

If you apply for an ESTA over your mobile phone, it is possible to take a picture of your passport with your phone while applying. Your biographic information will be automatically entered, and you will not have to type all your data in. The photo will be accepted in the following formats if applying with a PC:

  • Gif
  • Png
  • Jpg
  • Jpeg

In both cases, it is important that the Machine Readable Zone can be seen in the photo completely so that all the data is uploaded correctly. The following data will be uploaded:

  • Last name
  • First name
  • Sex
  • Passport number
  • Issuing authority
  • Citizenship
  • Date of birth
  • Date of expiration
Image of passport upload

Double-check all information entered in the form and make sure your data is correctly submitted to the US authorities. Source: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

 

You are not required to upload a photo of your passport. Uploading a photo is purely optional – you can continue to enter in your data as usual. If you do choose to use the new photo upload method, then you should carefully check that all your data has been entered in the form correctly. Depending on the quality of the photo, it is possible for data to be uploaded incorrectly.

What information does ESTA require?

The following information must be given in the ESTA application for traveling to the USA:

  • Personal data
  • Passport details
  • Destination details
  • Contact person in the USA
  • Information about your current employer
  • Emergency contact person

Furthermore, you must also truthfully answer several questions about security, the purpose of your trip and your past, such as if you intend to take up employment in the USA or if you have ever been denied a US visa or entry to the United States.

A biometric passport that is valid for the length of your stay is required for an ESTA application.

Apart from a few optional questions, the form must be completed in full. If you do not know, for example, the address of your hotel in the USA, then you can update it once you know where you will be staying.

Do I have to give my social media data?

As of now, giving any social media data in the ESTA application is voluntary. Leaving this optional field blank has no effect on the authorization or denial of your ESTA.

I have two citizenships - Do I give both in my ESTA application?

Yes! You are required to give all citizenships for which you have a passport in the ESTA application. If you fail to include one of your citizenships, you risk having your ESTA denied.

Where can I apply for an ESTA?

You can apply for an ESTA to travel to the USA on, inter alia, the official website of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. ESTA can only be applied for and submitted online. There is no American ESTA agency or anything similar. 

If you do not have access to the internet, then you can ask a friend, family member or a third party to complete your application.

Applying for an ESTA can only be done online!

Can I apply for ESTA with a travel agency?

You can apply for an ESTA with the same travel agency that booked your flights to the USA. Most agencies charge a fee for this extra service.

Why was my passport not accepted?

If your passport was not accepted while submitting your ESTA application, then you should double-check that you have correctly entered your passport number. Take note that the letter “O” and the number “0” are easily confused.

The passport number may also not work if you have recently applied for a new passport. It could be, that the federal government has not yet authorized your new passport number because it has not yet been fully processed. In this case, apply for your ESTA once you have your new passport in your hands.

Please be aware that children’s passports must be biometric. If your child’s passport is not electronic, then you will need to apply for a biometric one.

Can I apply for an ESTA with an express passport?

Yes, you can apply for an ESTA with an express passport. These are official passports that are simply processed quicker (ca. 4 days).

Can I apply for an ESTA without a passport?

It is not possible to apply for an ESTA without a passport. You are required to have a passport when traveling to the USA. You will be asked for it not only in the ESTA application, but also when you land on American soil.

A valid biometric passport is essential for ESTA! Later, you will need your passport number to check the status of your ESTA.

How can I check my ESTA?

ESTA applications can be accessed on the official US website. Log in to your individual account to do the following things:

  • Check your personal details
  • Change your travel information
  • Print your ESTA application for your trip
  • Check to see how long your ESTA is valid for

During the 2-year time period in which your ESTA is valid, you can log in as often as you want to change your travel information or check the validity of your ESTA.

How do I log in to ESTA?

There are two options to logging in to the official US ESTA website:

  • With your application number, passport number, and your birthdate; or
  • With your passport number, birthdate, first and last name, and citizenship

Easily log in and check your ESTA application with this information.

Where can I find my ESTA status?

Your ESTA can only be found on the official website of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. There is no where else where you can access, check or change your ESTA application.

Can I print my ESTA again?

Yes, you can reprint your ESTA at a later time. The US authorities will not send your ESTA to you in a separate e-mail. Your ESTA can only be accessed by logging in online. Here you can print copies at any time.

If you happen to lose your ESTA, do not worry. Your ESTA is saved online and you can access your travel authorization whenever you need it.

What happens if I delete the ESTA e-mail?

After applying for an ESTA, you will receive an e-mail from the US authorities telling you to check the status of your application. This e-mail will not tell you if your ESTA has been authorized or not. The status of your application can only be checked online! The US authorities do this to prevent people from accidently deleting their ESTA e-mails.

Despite this, you must give a valid e-mail address in your ESTA application so that the US authorities can send you an “ESTA Expiration Warning Email”. This e-mail is a reminder that your ESTA is only valid for 30 more days.