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The ESTA application process: step by step

The ESTA application process: step by step

If it is your first time applying for ESTA and you are wondering how to go about the process, you are in the right place. Continue reading as we walk you through the process of applying for ESTA step-by-step.

ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) is an automated process implemented by the US for residents of the US Visa Waiver Program countries to gain entry into the country without requiring a visa.

Here are the relevant aspects of the ESTA application process.

Ensure you are eligible to apply for ESTA

Before you apply for ESTA, you must ensure that your passport is valid, your intended duration of stay in the US is not more than 90 days, and your purpose of travel is tourism or business only. Similarly, you cannot apply for ESTA if you have a valid US visitor visa, B-1 or B-2, even if you are a resident of a VWP country. Once you have ensured that you are eligible for ESTA, you can fill out the application form.

Fill out the application form.

When you fill out the application form, you will be required to provide your home address, a relevant phone number, a valid email ID, an emergency contact phone, and an email address. Additionally, if applicable, you may be asked to provide your national or personal ID number, Global Entry ID number, your employer contact and address, or contact details for your point of contact in the US, if there is any.

The entire process is online, and you can conveniently fill out the details. However, make sure that all the details you have entered are accurate and if required, recheck your form before submitting it.

Make the payment

Once you are done filling out the pertinent details on the application form, you must make the payment for the application process to proceed. The fee for an ESTA application is $21, and you can make payment online via Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, or Discover.

Once you have made the payment, your ESTA application will be processed, and when it is approved, you will receive ESTA via email.

In normal cases, it may take up to three days or 72 hours for the application to be processed and the approval to arrive, given there are no problems with the screening process. Therefore, it is recommended that you get started with the application at the earliest and apply at least three days before your intended travel date.

In any case, once you receive ESTA, you are ready to travel and must bring the passport along on the date of travel through which you applied for ESTA. While you are officially not required to bring a printed copy of ESTA to the airport for travelling, some airlines may ask you to present an approved ESTA application, so you need to be prepared if it is required.