What is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)?

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTATM) is an automated system that assists in determining eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of an ESTATM application, a VWP traveler is notified of his or her eligibility to travel to the United States under the VWP.

The VWP is administered by the DHS and enables eligible citizens or nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.  For additional information about the VWP, please read the Overview of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

As of September 8, 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the Department of Homeland Security requires that VWP travelers pay promotional and operational fees when applying for ESTA.  A fee of $4 will recover the costs incurred by CBP of providing and administering the ESTA system and is in addition to the mandatory $10 travel promotion fee established by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009. The total fee for a new or renewed ESTA will be $14.

Log onto the ESTA Web site to complete an on-line application. Travelers are encouraged to apply early. The web-based system will prompt you to answer basic biographical and eligibility questions typically requested on a paper I-94W form.

Applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, however, DHS recommends that applications be submitted no less than 72 hours prior to travel.

For additional information please read the information posted on the ESTA public announcement by visiting the CBP website.