The Czech Republic (Czechia) was finally invited to join the United States of America’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in October 2008 by President Bush. At the time, the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said: "It is a removal of the last relic of Communism and the Cold War." And already in 2009, citizens of the Czech Republic were able to apply online for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
Applying online for the ESTA means no visit to any U.S. Embassy is needed. Only those that get denied have to queue up at the nearest U.S. Embassy for the B-2 tourist visa. And it is essential to be understood that the ESTA is not a visa but a travel document/authorization that grants access to the U.S. for up to 90 days for business, tourism, medical reasons, and non-credit study programs.
The ESTA travel authorization is only valid for two years but can be used multiple times. When expired, a new application has to be made. Take note that if you are traveling with infants/children, they also need an ESTA to enter the U.S.
U.S. Immigration statistics about Czech travelers (2017):
- The total amount of visitors from Czech Republic: 136 282
- Approved ESTA applications: 116 097
- Students and exchange visitors: 6 368
- Temporary workers and family-related applications: 4 543
- Diplomats and other official representatives: 1 511
- Other types of visitor categories: 298
Traveling from Czechia to the United States
From Czechia, you can reach the East Coast of the U.S. in little over 9 hours (if you can find a nonstop flight), and you can check for flights from Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Karlovy Vary, and Pardubice. Flying from Prague Terminal 1 is probably your best option, and the fastest way to get from Prague city center to the Václav Havel Airport Prague is by bus. It is recommended to take the 119 bus (Terminal 1/Terminal 2 – Veleslavín train station) and change to Metro Line A. To get tickets for public transport, use one of the many ticketing machines or the Prague Public Transit company (DPP) counter.
The price varies significantly between the fastest flights and commercial flights. Carriers that seem to be offering the fastest routes are United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, and Iberia.
If you are flying on a budget, then consider checking out sites such as Openskies and Transavia, or carriers such as Norwegian Air, Aeroflot, WOW Air, TAP Portugal, and Ukraine International Airlines.
What is the best time to apply for the ESTA?
Currently, (since December 2018) it is mandatory to apply for an ESTA 72 hours prior to boarding a plane. Regardless, travelers are recommended to apply weeks or months in advance, to guarantee that their travel authorization (ESTA) is approved. Non-approved applications mean that a regular B-2 visa must be obtained, which can take a very long time to complete. If you have plans to visit the United States, why not just apply today? Read more about the ESTA application here.
Travelers with an approved ESTA can check its status or make updates. Visit this page for more information: verify/update ESTA.
Czech citizens can apply for ESTA online
The ESTA is valid for 2 years for visitors from the Czech Republic
Czechs can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with an approved ESTA
Czechia’s overstay rate is only: 0.64%