If you want to travel soon to the United States, then is really important you know what ESTA is, before making any plans and board a plane or vessel bound for this country, because since January 12, 2009, the approval document is a mandatory requirement for all citizens of Visa Waiver countries to travel to the US.

What is ESTA?

It is the acronym of Electronic System for Travel Authorizationwhich allows you to travel to the United States and is issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Customs and Border Protection Service. This document is processed by an electronic system where it is possible to request a permit to enter US through the Internet.

The electronic system evaluates whether the candidate poses no risk to the implementation and security of the protection of US rights. Citizens of Visa Waiver countries do not need a visa to travel to the US, instead, they need to receive an approval of an ESTA application.

ESTA: Electronic System for Travel Authorization

ESTA Duration and Validity

If you have received an Electronic System Travel Authorization approval and are planning to travel to the US by air or sea, it is not necessary to fill in the green I-94W card. On the other hand, the document is valid for two years or until the validity period of the passport expires and it is not necessary to process it every time we visit the country within that term.

You have the right to remain in the US with a valid approval of up to ninety (90) days in a single visit. If you plan to travel to the United States for more than 90 days, you will be required to apply for a visa instead of an ESTA permit. Passengers who stop in US territory in transit to other countries are also required to request the Electronic System Travel Authorization.
ESTA, passport and VISA to enter the United States

How Does ESTA Work?

Through a website, the US institutions mentioned above, publish the Electronic Travel Authorization System as a simple application to complete in order to make the permit’s request. In this application you must fill out an information form where you are asked about the destination of your trip and your credit card.

Once completed, your application will be sent and the system will inform you immediately if you are approved or not to visit the United States through the Visa Waiver Program. When your trip is in process, the officer in charge will confirm your authorization approved by the system through the US Customs and Border Control Service.

It is important to mention that ESTA is not a visa, because it does not meet the legal requirements to replace one. Travelers who hold a US visa can travel to the country only for the purpose for which the document was issued, and if it is valid, travelers do not need to process an ESTA.

In the same way that a valid visa does not guarantee admission to the United States, an approved Electronic Travel Authorization System is not a guarantee of admission to the US.
Visa Waiver Program Countries

ESTA Essential Requirements

In order to get an approved Electronic Travel Authorization System, you have to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Own passport in force with electronic chip.
  • Travel for business or tourism and stay less than 90 days in the territory of the United States.
  • Valid credit card or Paypal account to collect the $14 Dollars processing fee.
  • Be a citizen of any of the 38 countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

And what is the process for applying for ESTA travel authorization? We will now guide you step by step, so you don’t get lost in the next post.