Disclaimer: ESTA.us provides information about the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This website is privately-owned and not affiliated with the U.S. Government. We link out to third-party websites that process ESTA applications for an additional processing fee. Visitors can choose between using a private company or the official government portal to submit their travel authorization.

ESTA Application for Citizens of the UK

Country: The United Kingdom

Capital: London

ESTA Required: Yes

The United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) was the first country that got accepted into the United States of America’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP). And since July 1988, UK citizens have been able to travel to the United States without a visa under certain circumstances. The UK was, and still is, one of the top three countries when it comes to overall visits to the U.S. And making it more straightforward for the citizens of the United Kingdom to visit the U.S. has had enormous benefits for both countries when it comes to travel overall, but especially for tourism and short-term business visits.

In 2009, the application process to obtain the U.S. travel authorization was moved onto an online platform. The platform is named the Electronic System of Travel Authorization, better known as ESTA. The ESTA lets citizens of the United Kingdom visit the U.S. for up to 90 days for the purpose of business, tourism (including medical purposes) and for attending non-credit study programs. The validity of an ESTA is two years, and the travel document can be used for multiple visits to the states.

Traveling to the U.S. for any other reason than stated earlier, or for a duration that exceeds 90 days, requires a tourist visa. Keep in mind that a visit to a U.S. Embassy is required when applying for a U.S. visa. ESTA is not a visa and can be applied for online. In fact, it can only be applied for online.

U.S. Immigration statistics for the UK (2017):

  • The total amount of visitors from the United Kingdom: 5 076 167
  • Approved ESTA applications: 4 558 681
  • Students and exchange visitors: 57 108
  • Temporary workers and family-related applications: 173 069
  • Diplomats and other official representatives: 39 239
  • Other types of visitor categories: 18 664

Information about traveling to the United States of America from the United Kingdom

Traveling to the U.S. from the UK is accessible from most major cities, there is a ton of great options for airlines and destinations. Because of this, you will find great deals on flights from the UK to the U.S. The UK has international airports spread all across the island, including Belfast, Edinburgh, London, and Manchester.


Belfast International Airport lies northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. More information here. To get to the airport from Belfast travelers can take the Airport Express 300 service. Tickets for this service can be purchased from the driver and should cost just £8 one way. The Ulsterbus 109A service also operates a route to Belfast International Airport and also links in with Antrim railway station, which is 10km from the airport. There is also a direct service to Belfast International Airport called Airporter.

Edinburgh Airport is the busiest airport in Scotland. More details here. There are lots of bus options from Edinburgh to the airport. Take the express bus Airlink 100, Citylink 909 or JET 747 from the city center or local bus routes Skylink 200, 300 and 400. There is also the N22 for late night flights. Public bus route No. 600 may take a little longer, but they are a great and cheaper option for transport. Or choose to travel by tram with the Edinburgh Trams, the systems run to the airport from all the suburbs and city center. More details on all the transport options to the airport see here.

Glasgow Airport, which is also referred to as Glasgow International Airport, sits just 14km west of Glasgow city center. More details here. To get there by bus, take the Glasgow Shuttle bus service No. 500. McGill's Bus also runs a service to the airport (No. 757).

Manchester Airport is one of the UK’s busiest airports, with regular flights to the U.S. every day to several destinations. More details here.

Because Manchester Airport is such a hive of activity for flights getting there is easy, with lots of options. Direct trains operate to and from the city center of Manchester. Buy tickets here. A number of public bus routes take in the airport including No. 43, 103, 199, 288, 368A, 737 and X30.

In London there are three international airports that offer the best options to fly to the U.S. We will focus our attention on Gatwick, Heathrow, and Stansted Airports. Gatwick is 30 minutes from London central, Heathrow is 15 minutes while Stansted is a little further out at 47 minutes.

Travelers can take the tube or DLR from Heathrow Airport to central London. More details on the tube and DLR here. The main trains that service Gatwick, Heathrow, and Stansted, are mainline trains. More details here. National Express coaches also offer more local services to locations in the UK to these main three airports. See their website for more information.

Flight information:

If you are looking to book a flight from the UK to the U.S. here are some options to choose from.

  • From Belfast, fly to Orlando with Virgin Atlantic. Fly with United Airlines from Edinburgh to Chicago, Washington, and Newark. Fly with Delta Airlines to New York and Boston or fly American Airlines to Philadelphia.
  • From Glasgow, fly to Orlando with Virgin Atlantic, Newark with United Airlines, and New York with Delta Airlines.
  • From Manchester, fly to Atlanta, Boston, Orlando, New York, and Los Angeles with Virgin Airlines. Fly to Houston with Singapore Airlines. Thomas Cook Airlines fly to Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle - all direct. United Airlines fly to Newark, and there are many other potential destinations from Manchester to the U.S.
  • From London, fly to Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington. A whole host of airlines offer direct, non-stop flights to the U.S. from London including American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Norwegian Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Airlines to names a few, you will not be short of options from London airports.

When should citizens of the UK apply for ESTA?

It is advisable to apply for an ESTA the moment you confirm that you are traveling to the United States of America. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security strongly encourages all travelers to apply for their ESTA at least 72 hours before boarding their aircraft. Last minute application should be avoided because there is a chance for applications being denied. Should this happen to you, then applying for a tourist visa would be your next step. Applying could take longer than expected, which means you might have to cancel your flight, or move your travel dates.

Travelers from the UK with an approved ESTA can check its status or make updates. Visit these pages for additional information: Verify ESTA, Update ESTA.


Quick facts for the United Kingdom

Citizens of the UK can apply for ESTA online

The ESTA is valid for two years for visitors from the United Kingdom

UK citizens can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with an approved ESTA

United Kingdom’s overstay rate is only: 0.30%