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Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) launched

23 January 2009

With effect from 12th January 2009, the procedures for travellers to the United States wishing to enter under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) have changed. Click here for personalised Visa advice for travelling to the US.

Travellers are required by the US Department of Homeland Security to apply, and be authorised for travel before departure via the ESTA website. ESTA will ultimately eliminate the need to complete the paper based I-94W Visa Waiver form, normally handed to passengers by carriers and presented to US Customs & Border Protection officers at immigration, but some travellers are still required to complete the form in addition to an ESTA in the short term. Travellers should check with their airline whether they are still required to complete a form.

Travellers are strongly recommended to apply at least 72 hours before departure, though, for 99.8% (DOHS figures) of applicants, approval should be returned in less than 10 seconds after submission of the application.

An ESTA approval is valid for two years (or until your current passport expires, whichever is sooner) and for multiple entries into the US.

All travellers, including accompanied and unaccompanied children are required to obtain ESTA approval. All other conditions of the VWP apply - i.e. travel for business or holiday purposes up to a maximum of 90 days.

Although ESTA approval authorizes travel to the US, it does not guarantee admissibility; this will be determined by a US Customs and Border Protect (CBP) officer at ports of entry or pre-clearance facilities.

VWP eligible travellers are nationals of the following countries:

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brunei
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland (Rep. of)
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom (British Passports endorsed ''British Citizen'' only)