Whoever wants to travel to the USA needs a visa to do so. These days it is no longer necessary to apply for the US visa at the US embassy. The visa obligation was implemented in 2007 to tighten the security of the country. There are various countries that fall under the Visa Waiver Program. Countries that take part in this program don’t need to apply for a visa but can apply for an online travel permit. This is called an ESTA USA.
ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization and means that the traveller is asking for online permission to travel to the country. ESTA can only be applied for online, as it is an electronic permit. To submit the application a valid passport is required. The US government does not accept the European ID-card. It is not a valid proof of identification in the USA.
Travellers headed for the USA therefore need a valid passport. During the application, the ESTA is then linked to the passport number. It is important to closely write down this information when applying for the ESTA and to closely check it.
When to apply for an ESTA?
The processing time for an ESTA application can take up to 72 hours. That’s why it is necessary to apply for this electronic travel permit on time. We recommend applying for an ESTA about four to five weeks in advance. If the electronic travel permit is rejected, you will have plenty of time to apply for a US visa at the embassy.
For an ESTA USA application the passport information, information of an emergency contact person and a debit card are required. It is also possible to submit a group application, for example for an entire family. The advantage of a group application is that there is no need to pay per person, but a one-time payment - for all applications together - is sufficient.
ESTA USA is a permit, not a right
It is important to remember than ESTA USA grants permission to travel to the USA. That is something different than permission to enter the country. This means that travellers travelling under the Visa Waiver Program can still be denied entry to the USA. This can happen after inspection by US customs.
It is necessary to apply for the travel permit in advance. Otherwise airlines cannot take the passenger along. It is therefore important to possess an ESTA USA in advance, before travelling to the airport. This will be asked for when boarding.
Validity ESTA USA
An ESTA USA is valid for two years, unless the passport expires earlier. An ESTA grants the right to stay in the USA for 90 days. It is possible to use the ESTA multiple times. A new ESTA needs to be applied for if the passport expired earlier, or if changes in the status of the traveller occur. For example, when losing citizenship, a conviction, contagious disease or sex-change.
Apply for an ESTA USA now
Applying for an ESTA USA is very simple. This is possible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The application takes about five minutes. Applying for this digital travel permit costs €29,95 per person. Paying can be done through Visa, MasterCard, American Express and PayPal.
Forgot to submit an ESTA USA application? Apply for an urgent ESTA travel permit. This can be done by clicking ‘Urgent’ on the application form. Generally an urgent application is approved within seventeen minutes. After approval, you receive an e-mail message. It is not necessary to print this confirmation and take it along. We recommend applying for an ESTA on time. It is not required to have arranged for a place to stay or a contact person in the USA.