Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)

If you’re planning to visit or pass through the United States you’ll need an ESTA which gives you permission to visit without a visa.

You need an ESTA if:

  • You’re a UK citizen: or a citizen of another visa waiver country
  • Your trip: is for 90 days or less and is for business or pleasure
  • You’re arriving: by plane or cruise ship. You don’t need an ESTA if you’re driving into the US from Mexico or Canada

How it works

Official guidance says to submit your application at least 72 hours prior to travel. And remember, you need an ESTA even if you’re going to change planes in America.

  1. Apply for your ESTA online  Enter your passport details, answer some simple questions, enter your travel information if you have it and submit your application.
  2. Make a note of the application number So you can check your ESTA status or update your information.
  3. Make your ESTA payment This currently costs $14 if you do it directly via the ESTA website. We recommend you do this as you’ll pay more if you do it through a travel agent. If you’re refused entry to the States you’ll only be charged $4.
  4. View your application status Once your ESTA is approved it’s valid for two years and you can make multiple trips back to America during this time without having to reapply. You don’t need to print off or take your ESTA information with you when you travel – it will automatically be sent to your carrier. It’s up to you whether you update your travel information on the ESTA system for future trips. 

If your ESTA is rejected

Visit the United States Department of State Web site at www.travel.state.gov to find out how to apply for a visa.