The ESTA lasts for up to two years after it is granted. In this period, travellers are allowed to make an unlimited number of trips to the USA. Each stay can last a maximum of 90 days. However, the validity of the ESTA can, in certain cases, expire earlier. An expired ESTA cannot be extended or corrected. An entirely new application has to be submitted.
When can the ESTA validity be less than two years?
The ESTA validity expires earlier than two years if:
- A different passport is used to travel with than the one that was used to submit the ESTA application
- The ESTA application form is incomplete or otherwise filled in incorrectly
- Certain information in the filled in ESTA form is no longer up to date*
- The traveller intends to stay in the USA for longer than 90 consecutive days
- The traveller did not adhere to the requirements for travelling with an ESTA
* Check at the bottom of the page when an altered situation results in an invalid ESTA and in which cases the ESTA remains valid.
Length of stay per trip: maximum of 90 consecutive days
Within the validity period of two years, an unlimited number of trips to the USA can be made. Each individual stay in the USA can last a maximum of 90 days. The ESTA validity only applies when it is used for business or tourist purposes. This includes transits in the US, or visiting friends or family.
Staying in Canada, Mexico, or a Caribbean Island
If during a journey to the USA a trip is made to Mexico, Canada, or a Caribbean Island, this is included in the validity duration of 90 days.
Example: a stay in Mexico. A traveller arrives in the USA with an ESTA, stays there for 60 days, and proceeds to travel to Mexico to stay there for 20 days. From Mexico, the traveller returns to the USA. The traveller is thus allowed to stay for 10 more days in the USA, and not a fresh 90 days. If the traveller had left for Europe, then the second stay in the United States was allowed to last another 90 days.
Minimum waiting period between two trips to the US with an ESTA
It is not intended for travellers to stay a short while out of the United States, and then come back solely to refresh the 90-day validity period. There is no official minimum required waiting period between two trips to the USA with an ESTA. When travelling into the USA again, the customs officer of the US Customs and Border Protection will make an assessment of the situation. In case they suspect that the traveller left the USA with the sole intention of renewing the 90-day validity period, then the ESTA validity will be rendered void. Travellers who wish to travel to the USA often and stay for longer periods of time can apply for a visa, where these rules do not apply.
A valid ESTA is linked to a single passport
An ESTA is inseparably linked to the passport with which the application form was filled in. It is thus not possible to travel to the USA with another passport without filing for an entirely new ESTA. As soon as a passport has expired, the ESTA validity expires alongside it. If during the application for the ESTA all of the passport information was not correctly filled in, the ESTA validity expires as well.
Has the passport almost expired? Always apply for a new passport first before applying for a new ESTA. The application form requires the passport number of the new passport to be filled in. Most local governments offer a special urgency procedure to receive a new passport faster. An ESTA can also be applied for through an urgent application procedure. Urgent application procedures are on average approved within an hour.
Other reasons why the ESTA validity can expire
Aside from the maximum length of stay and the validity of the passport, there are a few other things that are of importance when it comes to the ESTA validity.
Filled in information is incorrect or incomplete
Should the ESTA application form, intentionally or unintentionally, be filled in incorrectly or incompletely, the application might be approved as normal, but it will not be valid. The immigration service does not have access to the information of every traveller in the world, and as such cannot spot every single mistake made. For instance, a wrongly filled in date of birth will not result in a rejection of the application. The ESTA will be granted, but it will not be valid. It can happen that travellers only notice this when checking in at the airport. The airline will indicate that there is no valid ESTA tied to your passport information. That the document has been granted based on faulty information is not relevant to the airline. This problem can only be solved by submitting an entirely new ESTA application.
Filled in information is no longer up to date
If the personal situation of the traveller has changed, making the information provided in the ESTA application out of date, that can also lead to an invalid ESTA. The ESTA validity expires instantly in case the traveller:
- Receives a new passport
- Takes a new first or last name
- Changed nationality or gender
- Moves to another country
- Can no longer answer all the safety questions with "no".
An ESTA is still valid in case the traveller:
- Moves, but stays in the same country
- Has changed their contact person
- Changes the travel date or the address where they are staying in the USA
- Wishes to travel to the US with another purpose*
* For a valid ESTA the new travel purpose has to adhere to the requirements for travelling with an ESTA.