ESTA Application

Every traveler who wants to enter the USA without a visa has to submit an ESTA application online in advance - even if it is only for transit! Below you will find the most important information on how to apply for ESTA.

Current notice

With effect from October 1st, 2022, travelers to the USA by land will also have to apply for an ESTA. This means that uniform rules will apply to all travelers in the future - regardless of the means of transport they use to come to the USA.

Submit your ESTA application now to travel to the USA visa-free!


The official travel authorization for your trip to the USA!

What is ESTA?

ESTA is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization - an electronic entry procedure for the United States, which since 2009 has enabled visa-free travel to the United States under the VWP. ESTA can only be applied for online. If you have a valid ESTA, you do not need to apply for a visa.

ESTA requirements

In order to qualify for the significantly cheaper visa-free entry to the USA with ESTA, you must meet certain requirements:

  • You have a valid biometric passport
  • You plan to visit the USA as a tourist or business traveller?
  • You don't want to stay more than 90 days in the USA
  • You are a citizen of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program

Citizens of the following countries are eligible to apply for ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program:

Andorra Australia Austria Belgium
Brunei Chile Croatia Czech Republic
Denmark Estonia Finland France
Germany Great Britain Greece Hungary
Iceland Ireland Italy Japan
Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg
Malta Monaco New Zealand Norway
Poland Portugal San Marino Singapore
Slovakia Slovenia South Korea Spain
Sweden Swizerland Taiwan The Netherlands

All other nationalities must apply for a US visa.

When do I need to apply for an ESTA?

There is no official deadline from the US authorities for applying for an ESTA. It is, though, highly recommended to apply for an ESTA at least 3 days before your departure to the USA. This is to ensure that by the time you enter the USA, you will be traveling with a valid ESTA. You should be able to show proof of a valid ESTA when checking-in to your flight at the latest.

when apply ESTA

You should apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before your flight to the USA.

Since the end of 2018 real-time approvals are no longer available! Therefore, you should apply for ESTA no later than 72 hours prior to departure. We recommend, however, applying for an ESTA as early as possible. Ideally, you should apply for your ESTA 6-8 weeks before your planned trip to the United States so that you have enough time to apply for a US visa if your ESTA is denied.

Due to the risk of having an ESTA application denied, we recommend first planning your US trip (booking flights, hotels etc.) after your ESTA has been authorized. If you do not have families or friends in the USA, you can give the address of the hotel you plan to stay at in the USA.

You can check your ESTA status at any time in your customer account!

What data is required for ESTA?

Have a photo of your passport data page ready for upload. You will also need to provide the following information, among other things, when applying for ESTA:

  • Personal data
  • Details of the destination
  • Contact persons in the USA
  • Information on the current employer
  • Emergency contact

In addition, there are security questions about your health, travel intentions and past, such as whether you intend to work in the United States or have ever been denied a visa or entry into the United States.

The form consists almost exclusively of mandatory fields, except for the information on the social media accounts. However, if you do not know the address of your hotel when you apply for ESTA, you can change this point later.

How long does it take to fill out the ESTA applicaton?

In general, it does not take long to fill out an ESTA application. If you already know where you will be staying in the USA and have your passport information on-hand, then it will only take about 10-20 minutes to complete the application thoroughly. Make sure you take the time to review all given data before submitting the application. 

Can I update my ESTA Visa?

You can update the following information in your ESTA:

  • Your e-mail address
  • The address in the USA

Even if it is not mandatory, we would recommend that you change your US address before re-entering the USA if it has changed. This way you do not take any risks. The data of your US contact person cannot be changed afterwards.

However, validity of ESTA expires if your personal data or your answers to the security questions change.

ESTA for children

Children traveling to the USA with their parents have to apply for an ESTA too, even if America is only a transit stop. They cannot travel to the USA under their parent’s passports as they are considered individual people and must have their own passports and their own valid authorization to be in the USA. 

Parents or a third party, like a travel agency or an ESTA agency, must complete and submit the ESTA application for all children under the age of 18. Children usually do not complete the question about employers and usually enter only passport information, their address, information about their parents and a US address.

ESTA Application for children

Parents as well as third parties can apply children for an ESTA.

A passport for children is only valid for an ESTA if it is a biometric ePass. That means the passport must be electronically readable so that the border control officer can read it. Moreover, it has to be valid for the child’s length of stay.

Picture of two happy kids waving the American flag on a bench.

Children have to also apply for an ESTA before traveling to the USA!

 The cost for applying for an ESTA is the same for adults and children. Furthermore, an ESTA is valid for two years for both adults and children.

ESTA for groups

Every person traveling to the USA needs to have a valid ESTA – even children! If you are planning your next trip through America with families or friends, then you can save time by using our ESTA group application.

Be on the safe side: Keep track of your ESTA more easily by printing it!

When completing a group application, there will be one contact person for the group who is responsible for organizing and paying for the applications. Each individual application will be checked by the USA experts at The American Dream.

To avoid any travel stress, we highly recommend giving yourself enough time to complete the ESTA group application. As soon as you have collected all the personal data and travel details of every applicant, you can start applying for an ESTA. Ideally, you should apply for an ESTA two months ahead of time or one week before departing at the latest.

ESTA for transit

Even if you only have a layover and never leave the airport, you are required to have an ESTA. People traveling through the USA are considered visitors of the United States by the US authorities and must have, therefore, a valid US visa or an ESTA travel authorization.

Airlines are required to inform the U.S. Department of Homeland Security of their passengers’ traveling status. If you cannot show that you are in the USA with a valid ESTA, then you will not make your connecting flight.

The ESTA application for people in transit is practically the same. The only difference is that you do not need to include a contact person in the USA and a US address.


We would recommend that you always provide an ESTA for entry into the USA. As the travel authorization is valid for two years, you then have the option to enter the USA during this time. With an ESTA only for transit this would not be possible!

Can I use ESTA for business trips?

Yes, ESTA can be used to travel to the USA for business as long as you do not stay in the USA longer than 90 days and you do not work for a US company. Business trips that are allowed under the Visa Waiver Program include participating in:

  • Conferences
  • Meetings
  • Consultations
  • Job fairs

You may have problems entering the USA again if you stay longer than 90 days or work/take up employment.

Business trips with an ESTA

With an ESTA, you can take a business trip to the USA for up to 90 days!

ESTA for land crossing

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced in April 2022 that Visa Waiver Program travelers entering the United States by land will be required to obtain ESTA authorization beginning October 1st, 2022. Thus, all US travelers will be subject to the same requirements in the future, regardless of how you enter the country.

ESTA application denied – What can I do?

If your ESTA application is rejected due to an unintentional mistake or typing error, please contact us immediately if you have applied with us.

We will then immediately try to arrange a correction!


Benefit from the expertise of The American Dream and submit your ESTA application with our professional help. We will take care of the correct entry of all your data.

Apply for ESTA now