ESTA formalities online for your stay in the United States

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has set up a computerized system to strengthen national security and facilitate short-term stays for foreign nationals. This platform is used to assess the risks associated with travelers prior to their arrival in the United States. Travelers fill out an online application before departure to obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

ESTA authorization can be obtained in just a few minutes by completing the online ESTA form.

The United States introduced this system of prior authorization for travel for three main reasons:

  1. To strengthen national security: ESTA enables the US authorities to better control and monitor travelers to the USA without a visa, by requesting personal information and carrying out security checks prior to arrival.
  2. To facilitate travel: For travelers from eligible countries, ESTA simplifies the application process compared with traditional visas. This makes it easier to travel to the United States for tourism, business or short-term transit purposes.
  3. Reduce paper processing: By automating part of the verification and application process, ESTA reduces the administrative burden for travelers and immigration authorities alike.

See our page to find out what ESTA is all about.

ESTA as part of the US Visa Waiver Program

ESTA is part of the Visa Waiver Program. This U.S. visa waiver program allows nationals of certain countries to travel to the U.S. without a visa for short-term tourist, business or transit purposes. Member countries of the Visa Waiver Program collaborate effectively with the United States in the fight against terrorism. They strengthen border control and enable the enforcement of US national security laws.

Apply for ESTA authorization

Not all travellers can obtain an ESTA. Travelers wishing to apply must first check that they meet the ESTA eligibility requirements. These conditions determine which nationals of VWP member countries can travel to the U.S. for stays of less than 90 days without needing a traditional visa.

ESTA authorization allows you to travel to the United States for tourism or business. It is also possible to transit the USA with an ESTA. All travelers must have a personal authorization to travel. Parents must apply for a minor ESTA for each child, regardless of age.

To apply for ESTA, applicants must log on to the official ESTA website to fill in the ESTA form. The online process takes just a few minutes once the applicant has all their travel information. The questions on the ESTA form fall into four different categories:

It is important to answer all the questions on the ESTA form accurately and honestly. Any misrepresentation may result in refusal of the ESTA and even a ban on travel to the United States.

Obtain ESTA authorization to travel to the USA

To finalize the application, the applicant must pay for the ESTA. Despite what some travelers think, there’s no such thing as a free ESTA. In recent years, the price of ESTA has risen to cover the administrative costs of managing the program for the U.S. government. Payment triggers automatic processing of the ESTA application. In most cases, the computerized response is sent to the candidate by email within a few minutes.

For some applications, ESTA status is pending. This means that processing will take longer, but it does not mean that the application will be refused. The U.S. authorities are committed to a maximum 3-day ESTA response time.

Once the authorization has been granted, the traveler can make several stays of up to 90 days in the United States during the ESTA validity period.

Take off for the United States with ESTA authorization

A foreign national in possession of a valid ESTA authorization may board a plane for the United States. The traveler must be in possession of the necessary travel documents for the USA. You don’t need to print out your ESTA to get to the airport. The ESTA status can be consulted electronically by customs officers at US borders.

However, ESTA authorization is not a U.S. visa and does not automatically guarantee admission to the United States. ESTA holders must pass through border control to enter the United States.

During the ESTA validity period

ESTA authorization is valid for a maximum of 2 years. Under certain conditions, the validity period is reduced: for example, if the passport used to obtain the ESTA is no longer valid, then the ESTA itself is no longer valid. It’s easy to check your ESTA status online on the official ESTA website.

Travelers may also modify their ESTA under certain conditions. Updating your ESTA is very simple. It ensures that the personal information entered when obtaining the ESTA is still valid.

When changing passport or identity information, the traveler cannot simply change the information online. Travelers must renew their ESTA.

ESTA authorization allows you to travel to all US states. The most popular travel authorization for the USA is an ESTA for New York. When they want to discover the American West Coast, tourists apply for an ESTA for Los Angeles. As far as the American West Coast is concerned, many tourists apply for an ESTA for Miami. To discover the capital of the United States, foreign visitors apply for an ESTA for Washington.

U.S. border countries: To cross the U.S. northern border, foreign travelers must first obtain what some call an ESTA Canada. This is in fact an eTA Canada electronic travel authorization, similar to the ESTA for the USA, required to enter Canada without a visa.

Image of the site to obtain an ESTA to travel to the United States

Here’s a screenshot of the US Department of Homeland Security website dedicated to applying for an ESTA travel document for the United States:

Official ESTA website for the United States
Website to apply for ESTA authorization