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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) prior to check-in for a flight to the U.S. or connecting through the U.S.
To apply for authorization to travel to the U.S., travelers may go to the ESTA web-based system and complete an application. The process takes only a few minutes, and in most cases the ESTA website will provide an almost immediate determination of eligibility for travel under the VWP. You must apply for ESTA even if you are only transiting the U.S. If you are connecting through the U.S. to a final destination in another country, please write "In Transit" in the address field on the application.
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 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. As of April 1, 2016, 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.
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