ESTA for children

ESTA for children

Vacation in the USA for the whole family! Do children need to apply for an ESTA too? We have all you need to know about entering the USA with children.


The official travel authorization for your trip to the USA!

Do children need an ESTA?

Children traveling to the USA with their parents must apply for an ESTA too. This hold true even if the family is only traveling through and America is only a transit stop. Parents or a third party, like a travel agency or an ESTA agency, must complete and submit the ESTA application for all children under the age of 18. Children usually do not complete the question about employers and usually enter only passport information, their address, information about their parents and a US address.

Picture of two happy kids waving the American flag on a bench.

Children have to also apply for an ESTA before traveling to the USA!


The cost for applying for an ESTA is the same for adults and children. Furthermore, an ESTA is valid for two years for both adults and children. For US authorities, there are no differences between the two.

When do children apply for an ESTA?

Same as with adults, children should apply for an ESTA long before departing for the USA. At the latest, children should apply for an ESTA 3 days before leaving for the USA. Of course, we highly recommend applying for an ESTA 6-8 weeks before departing so that you have enough time to get the proper travel authorization for you and your family. Just in case your ESTA is denied, you will need the extra time to apply for the appropriate US visa.

Where do children apply for an ESTA?

Children can apply for an ESTA on the official website of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Why must children apply for an ESTA?

ESTA is an online travel authorization system that was introduced by the US authorities as an additional security check. Since 2009, people traveling to the USA under the Visa Waiver program are, without exceptions, required to have an ESTA. Children are not exempt from this rule and therefore must apply for an ESTA too.

Why do children need an ESTA?

Children also need a valid travel authorization for entering the USA. This means they must have either a US visa or an ESTA. Children cannot travel to the USA under their parent’s passports. Children are considered individual people and must have their own passports and their own valid authorization to be in the USA. 

Can a third-party complete an ESTA for a child?

Yes, ESTA applications for children can be completed by a third party. This can be either the child’s guardian, a travel agency or an ESTA agency.

Parents as well as third parties can apply children for an ESTA.

Can an ESTA be completed with a child passport?

No, a child cannot apply for an ESTA with a child passport or any other source of identification. A passport for children is only valid for an ESTA if it is a biometric ePass. That means the passport must be electronically readable so that the border control officer can read it. The passport must also be valid for the child’s length of stay.