Before you take that transatlantic trip, it’s essential to know what travel documentation you require.
How the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation Works
Log onto the ESTA website and complete an online application. You’re encouraged to apply early. The web-based system will prompt you to answer basic biographical and eligibility questions typically requested on a paper I-94W form.
Applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, however, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommends that applications be submitted no less than 72 hours prior to travel. In most cases, you’ll receive one of the following responses within seconds:
- Authorisation Approved: Your travel is authorised.
- Travel Not Authorised: You must obtain a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate before travelling to the U.S.
- Authorisation Pending: You’ll need to check the ESTA web site for updates within 72 hours to receive a final response.
An approved travel authorisation via ESTA is:
- Required for all Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) passengers prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the U.S. under the VWP beginning January 12, 2009.
- Valid, unless revoked, for up to two years or until the passenger's passport expires, whichever comes first.
- Valid for multiple entries into the U.S. As future trips are planned, or if an applicant's destination addresses or itineraries change after their authorisation has been approved, they may easily update that information through the ESTA web site.
- Not a guarantee of admissibility to the U.S. at a port of entry. ESTA approval only authorises a passenger to board a carrier for travel to the U.S. under the VWP. For additional information, please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
Transit through the U.S.:
Eligible nationals or citizens of countries that participate in the VWP require either a travel authorisation or a visa to transit the U.S. If a traveller is only planning to transit through the U.S. en route to another country, when he or she completes the travel authorisation application in ESTA, the traveller should enter the words ‘In Transit’. The traveller should also state his or her final destination location in the ‘Address while in the United States’ field on the application.
API can be added online via the ‘Manage Booking’ facility for passengers travelling to:
- The U.S.
- Canada (when travelling via the U.S. only, API for passengers travelling on direct flights to Canada will be collected at the airport.)
The information required for each passenger travelling to the U.S. is:
- First name (as on passport)
- Family name (as on passport)
- Date of birth
- Passport number
- Passport country
- Expiry date of passport
- Country of residence
- Alien registration or permanent resident card number if applicable
- Address while in the U.S. (if you’re not a U.S. passport holder or a landed U.S. resident)
Provide Advance Passenger Information (API) to your airline.
Residents of countries other than the U.S. must obtain approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) prior to travelling to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP).