ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. ESTA is an online application system developed by the United States government to pre-screen travelers before they are allowed to enter the United States. Due to the increased security regulations that went into effect on January 12, 2008 - visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (including German citizens) must apply for a Travel Authorization in advance of their trip to the United States. In addition, all travelers must have a machine readable passport in order to gain admittance into the United States. The ESTA application process is entirely online and operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Important Facts About ESTA:
- ESTA (U.S. Travel Authorization) is not a visa. It is a pre-authorization to board a U.S.-bound ship or airplane.
- The purpose of ESTA is to let the U.S. government pre-screen all Visa Waiver travelers before they leave their respective countries.
- Only citizens of one the 38 Visa Waiver Countries who are entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program can apply.
- It is recommended to apply for ESTA at least 72 hours prior to departure.
- If your ESTA Application is denied, you will be required to apply for a B-1 Visitor Visa or B-2 Tourist Visa.
- An approved ESTA Travel Authorization does not guarantee entry to the United States.
Why should I apply for ESTA?
- Starting on January 12, 2009 citizens from Visa Waiver countries must apply for ESTA (U.S. Travel Authorization) in order to be eligible for admittance into the United States.
- The ESTA Travel Authorization is normally valid for up to two years and can easily be updated for future visits.
Who needs to apply for ESTA?
- Any person who intends to visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program and is entering the U.S. by air or sea.
- Any person transiting through the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.
- Children and infants who are visiting or transiting under the Visa Waiver Program are also required to have an approved ESTA application.
About ESTA Applications
Online application process
Application takes less than 15 minutes
Over 99% approval rate
Mandatory Starting on January 12, 2009
Valid for up to 2 years