Entering the USA: How to get an ESTA – a fail proof guide!

If you’re considering a vacation to the United States, you’ll need to do some preparations ahead of time.

If you are a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program, entering the USA and remaining for up to 90 days is possible without requiring a visa. You must, however, have a valid ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) authorization. The focus is on a mandatory admission procedure to the United States for nationals of 38 nations.

We’ll go through the most crucial components of the ESTA application, as well as visa classifications, procedures, and issues encountered during the admission process.

What are the essential documents for entering the USA?

entering the usa documents

You must apply for an ESTA or a US visa before visiting the United States. You must also ensure that you have valid travel documentation. Your passport is, of course, one of the most significant documents. You also need a round-trip ticket.

Who needs an ESTA?

entering the usa visa waiver

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are among the 38 countries that currently participate in the Visa Waiver Program.

If you are a citizen of one of these countries, you will not need to apply for a visa for stays of less than three months if you are visiting for tourism or business. When traveling to the United States, you must have an ESTA authorization and a round-trip ticket. Because healthcare expenditures in the United States are notoriously high, it’s a good idea to have comprehensive travel insurance for the country before entering the USA.

If you don’t want to handle the online application yourself, several websites offer ESTA application services, such as www.esta-united.co.uk

entering the usa passport requirements VWP
Entering the USA: Make sure you respect the VWP passport requirements

VWP passport requirements

Only if your passport passes particular conditions can you travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. Make sure your passport meets the following requirements before applying for an ESTA:

  • You have an e-passport with an integrated chip and biometric photograph. Children are also required to have a biometric passport for entering the USA.
  • If the nation that issued your passport is a member of the Six Month Club, your passport must be valid for the duration of your trip, including the day of departure. Passports from other nations must have a 6-month validity beyond the date of departure in order to enter the United States.
  • Your passport was issued after 26 October 2006.
  • If your passport was issued between 26 October 2005 and 26 October 2006, it’s machine-readable (digital photograph printed on the data page or integrated electronic chip).

If your passport does not match these criteria, you will need to apply for a visa to enter the United States. You must also apply for a visa for entering the USA if your child has a non-biometric children’s passport.

How to get an ESTA

how to get esta guide

The ESTA application process is broken down into numerous parts on the web. ESTA can only be used for tourist or short-term business trips that require entering the USA. You’ll need the appropriate visa if you wish to work, study, or build your business network in America permanently.

Processing time: 72 hours

Fill out the online application

You must supply information on your identity, contact information, passport, and trip, as well as answer seven questions. An ESTA denial owing to application flaws or blanks will result in a lifelong ban.

Make a note of your application number

If you want to check the progress of your application or change your data later, you’ll need it.

Make a payment via the internet

The entire ESTA application process is online, including the payment.

Check the status of your application

You will receive a response either immediately or within 72 hours at the most. Authorization approved, authorization pending, or trip not authorized are the three options.

ESTA authorization approved

You do not need to take any further measures to go to the United States. It is recommended that you print your ESTA and keep it with you during your travel. entering the USA is possible as many times as you like within two years if you have an ESTA permit. However, keep in mind that a customs and border protection officer makes the final judgment when you’re entering the USA, even with a valid ESTA permit.

Estimated Cost: 21 USD


  • A passport as per the guidelines listed earlier in this guide to entering the USA.


  • A computer, tablet, or smartphone with an internet connection.

ESTA authorization FAQs

What does ESTA authorization pending mean?

You will be able to reverify the final status of your application through the ESTA website within 72 hours if your authorization is pending.

What do I do if my ESTA authorization is denied?

If your ESTA application is denied, you will not be able to visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. You must apply for a visa.

Do not put off applying for an ESTA until the last minute! Applications must be submitted at least 72 hours before entering the USA. Approvals in real-time are no longer possible.

About the author

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

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