Visa Waiver Program travelers
The United States Department of Homeland Security requires Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers to obtain approval from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at least 72 hours prior to check-in for a flight to the U.S. or connecting through the U.S. An ESTA is required even if you are immediately connecting through the U.S. to a third country.
To apply for authorization to travel to or through the U.S., VWP travelers must go to the ESTA web-based system and complete an application. While the ESTA application does not take long to complete, approval will take 72 hours. Please ensure you supply a valid email address in your application as the ESTA web-based system will send you an application number and link to obtain the status of your application. You must apply for an ESTA even if you are only transiting the U.S. immediately on your way to another country.
The U.S. government assesses a US$14 fee to apply for an ESTA. The fee can only be paid on the ESTA application website, and major credit/debit cards will be accepted (AMEX, VISA, MASTERCARD, DISCOVER CARD). If the ESTA applicant does not hold a credit/debit card, a third-party's credit/debit card may be used to pay the fee.
The U.S. government will not refund the $14 fee if the VWP traveler makes an error in the application and has to reapply. However, if the ESTA is denied, only $4 will be charged when reapplying.
An approved ESTA travel authorization is:
- valid for up to two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first;
- valid for multiple entries into the U.S. or for multiple connections through the U.S.; and
- not a guarantee of admissibility to the U.S. at a port of entry. ESTA approval only authorizes a traveler to board a carrier for travel to the U.S. under the VWP.
Please note that even if you hold ESTA approval, you must still comply with all VWP requirements. All visa waiver program travelers are required to hold an electronic passport for travel to the U.S.
If you are a U.S. resident, or are traveling with a valid U.S. visa, you are not required to obtain ESTA approval.
Countries currently enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program include:
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
Additional information about ESTA may be found at cbp.gov
Information about the Visa Waiver Program may be found at travel.state.gov