All Irish adults and children must possess a machine readable passport to qualify for the Visa Waiver Program while traveling to USA. This requirement has been in place since June 2005 and without this, it becomes necessary to visit the local U.S. embassy or consulate in order to acquire a visa.
Machine readable passports have been issued in Ireland since 1993 and it is one of the countries that qualify for visa waivers. However, if you need to travel on a passport that is old and handwritten, you will need to get a visa through a US consulate or embassy. There are a combination of numbers, letters and chevrons in two lines on the page where your personal information is given, which indicate that it is a machine readable passport.
Since October 2006, countries included in the Visa Waiver Program – including Ireland – have been issuing ePassports. These new passports contain the passport holder’s digital photograph, biometric and biographic information on an integrated microchip. ePassports are identifiable by a logo visible on the cover. It is still okay to travel using machine readable passports that were issued before ePassports were introduced, as long as they are valid and have not expired yet.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
Ireland is one of the countries that are a part of the United States’ Visa Waiver Program. Under this agreement, Irish citizens must acquire travel authorization electronically through ESTA before traveling to the US by any means. This online authorization requirement was mandated in January 2009.
Travelers must pay a fee for ESTA applications which are also applicable on renewals. Fees are paid by debit card or credit card. MasterCard, American Express, VISA, Discover and Maestro are the debit/credit cards that will be accepted for ESTA payments. Once you have sent all your payment information, your application will be forwarded for approval.
It is highly recommended to apply for a minimum of 72 hours before you begin your travel to the United States. An approved ESTA will authorize travel into the US for two years, during which you can enter the country multiple times. However if your passport expires before this time, you will need to get it renewed. If you have approval, no fee will be charged for application updates, but if you are reapplying for it on a new passport, ESTA fees will be applicable.
In case your ESTA is not approved, you will need to obtain a visa from your local U.S. consulate or embassy in order to travel to the United States.
Admission into the US is not guaranteed upon ESTA approval. This will solely depend on the US immigration officials that are present at the point of entry into the United States.
If you are an Irish citizen who already has a visa for entry into the US, you do not need to apply for an ESTA.
You can go back to our homepage where you can get registered for travel under the Visa Waiver.