News report | | 20-02-2018 | ±3 minutes reading time

Applying for an ESTA is mandatory to travel to the United States. ESTA is a digital travel authorisation which states that the United States grants permission to enter the country.

This ESTA can be easily applied for online. It’s mandatory to possess an ESTA document when you’re at the airport of departure. When boarding, you won’t just be asked for identification, but also for a valid ESTA. If a passenger cannot present it, the airline cannot transport them. It’s very important that during the ESTA application, you pay extra attention to digits and letters.

Digits and letters in the passport number

To travel to the USA, you need to fill in an ESTA form. This makes it possible to travel to the United States without a visa. ESTA is therefore not a digital visa, but a digital proof that that you can travel to the USA. With the ESTA application, the traveller is registered as a visitor of the United States.

It’s important during an ESTA application to correctly write down the passport information. There have been an uncountable number of cases where a traveller made a mistake copying the passport information, forcing them to cancel their plans to travel to the USA. Some passport numbers use a combination of letters and digits. British passport numbers are exclusively made up of digits. This means that a common mistake made by travellers, mistaking the letter ‘o’ for the number ‘0’ cannot be made when filling in a British passport number.

The document number on a British passportThe passport number on a British passport

The passport number doesn’t just need to be correctly written down for the ESTA application, you also need it when booking your trip and flight ticket. That’s why more and more transport companies use an app, with which the traveller can scan their passport. This way, any confusion can be avoided.

Validity of the ESTA

Before travelling to the United States, it’s not just important to get the ESTA in order. The other forms of identification also need to be valid. The passport needs to be valid for the entirety of your stay in the USA. If the passport with which you plan to travel expires, the ESTA expires alongside it right away. You will then first need to apply for a new passport, before applying for a new ESTA. You can’t just apply for a new ESTA; not until you’ve acquired a new passport. British passports are generally valid for 10 years (adults) or five years (minors). If you notice the expiration date is close, apply for a new passport on time to avoid any trouble with your ESTA.

Tip for passport validity

Validity of the passport
The validity date of the passport is always indicated in the document. Check under the text “date of expiry”.


ESTA application

When applying for an ESTA, avoid commonly made mistakes like writing down an ‘o’ instead of a ‘0’. It’s extremely important that all the information is fully and correctly written down for an ESTA application. Failure to do so will lead to the ESTA being declared invalid. An ESTA application costs €29,95 per person. The application takes about five minutes. Airlines check beforehand whether the passport and the ESTA are valid. If either of them are invalid, the airline cannot take the traveller along to the USA. In that case, the traveller has to book a new flight. Avoid problems like that and double-check all the information on the passport and the ESTA application.