The United States have some tough security checks when it comes to foreigners, and this means that there are also some forms that need to be completed before entering the country. ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) is one of them.
ESTA is required if you travel to the United States by sea or air, or even if you are just catching a connecting flight there. Without ESTA, you might be turned away at the airport so you should make sure that you complete it in time.
What is ESTA
The ESTA system was created in order to tell visitors if they are eligible to travel to the United States with the Visa Waiver program. Before this system, visitors had to fill out the Visa Waiver form, which was a green piece of paper.
However, with the ESTA form things happen way faster and visitors can complete it just a few hours before they board for their trip to the United States. The ESTA form is required for everyone who enters the United States by air or sea. Therefore, if you travel there on land, you won’t need this application.
The ESTA form is even needed for babies, and the only time you don’t need an ESTA form is if you want to spend more time there. For example, you might want to stay there more than three months. In that situation you will need to apply for a visa. The ESTA form will cost you $14.
Completing an ESTA form
The esta visa application is available online and it is very simple to fill out. The form has three parts, and it is mandatory that you complete the first two, while the last one is optional. You will have to give out some personal information and details related to your passport, as well as answer some yes/no questions.
After you complete it, the results should show. up almost instantly. In some cases you might have to wait up to 72 hours, so that is why you should make sure that you fill the form at least three days before you leave for the United States. Otherwise, you might not have enough time to submit another application if the first one is refused.
Once you get the confirmation you should write down you reference number so you won’t forget it. If you can, it would be better to print out the authorization page so that you won’t lose it.
The ESTA form is not enough
The ESTA form might not be the only thing you need in order to enter the United States. In fact, you should know that this form only means that you are eligible to travel, and the US Customs and Border Protection officer at the point of entry. You might not fit the VWP criteria and your entry can be denied. Hopefully this won’t be the case, but it is best to be prepared for any scenario.