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ESTA - Electronic System for Travel Authorization

As of January 2009, the United States (US) Department of Homeland Security implemented a mandatory Electronic System for Travel Authorization - the ESTA - for visitors from countries currently part of the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The ESTA can be obtained by making an online ESTA application.

What is the ESTA?

An approved ESTA is an authorization to travel, NOT an American tourist visa. While it provides travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries with an authorization to enter the United States on a short-stay visit for the purposes of business or tourism, it does not meet the legal or regulatory requirements to serve in lieu of a USA visa. 

How to Apply for an ESTA

  • Complete the Online ESTA Application
  • Enter the passport and travel information for each traveler to the United States
  • Await confirmation and make note of your application number

Apply Online for your ESTA with our instant online application Apply Online for your ESTA with our instant online application

Who is required to have ESTA authorization?

Nationals of countries which are part of the Visa Waiver Program will need to apply in online for clearance to travel to the United States before they fly.  The US ESTA system will process visa applications against law enforcement and immigration databases to screen for potential threats to the United States.

How long will it take for an ESTA application to be processed?

For most travellers, ESTA processing will take 1-3 business days. Even if travel is not authorized under ESTA, the system will provide clear instructions to help travelers apply for a paper travel visa to visit the United States.  ESTA applications will have one of three results:

If an ESTA application is approved, it is valid for multiple entries into the United States.  An ESTA is valid for up to two years, or until the traveler's passport expires.

Please note that an ESTA is mandatory, but does not guarantee admission into the United States at the port of entry.  An ESTA only authorises a traveler to board an air or sea carrier to travel to the United States.

The final decision to authorize entry will be made by U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry.