Applying to travel under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (a necessary step to use the United States Visa Waiver program) is simple, but it's important to pay close attention to the details of the program, your citizenship information, and your travel plans to ensure your application is successful.
Make sure you are eligible. On our homepage, you’ll find the countries that are eligible for the Visa Waiver program and ESTA, and you must be a passport-holding citizen (not a permanent resident or resident) of a Visa Waiver program country to participate.
Make sure your documents are valid. The ESTA program requires your passport to be valid for at least six months after you plan to complete your trip to the United States.
Prepare your information. The ESTA application is easiest when you have all your information on hand. You'll need to enter your passport information, any other names or aliases you use, your contact information, your prior US visa admission history, your city of birth, your parents' names, your national identification number if applicable, and your history of any communicable diseases or criminal convictions. You'll also need a major credit card (American Express, Discover, Diners, Mastercard, or Visa) to pay for the application-processing fee. The payment will be in USD $.
The United States Department of Homeland Security's ESTA system responds to most applications instantly, but can require a maximum of 72 hours. The common recommendation is to apply at least 72 hours before you are due to travel.
The ESTA application form is available here. Start the application and carefully follow the instructions, double-checking all information for typing errors. You can apply individually, and you can apply for other travelers if you have their consent and correct information.
Make sure you write down your application's confirmation number in case there is a slight delay in processing your application. You may also print the document and bring it along with you on your travels to prove that you have applied and received a valid ESTA number.
Whether you apply for your ESTA authorization directly or through a third-party provider who specializes in ESTA applications depends entirely on your travel plans and your needs. If you're not confident in having the time to fill out the ESTA application with the necessary attention to detail, a third-party provider can offer specialized information double-checking, 24/7 customer service, and results notification and help your organization or peace of mind before you travel.