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

Since October 2022, travelers to the USA by land must also apply for an ESTA. This means that uniform rules now apply to all travelers - regardless of the means of transport they use to get to the USA.

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

ESTA

The official entry permit for 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 traveler?
  • 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:

COUNTRIES ELIGIBLE FOR ESTA:
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 Switzerland 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.

The US authorities provide a maximum processing time of 72 hours. However, we recommend requesting your ESTA authorization as early as possible. Optimally, you should apply for the US Travel Authorization 6-8 weeks before your departure to the United States. This gives you enough time to apply for a suitable US visa in case of a rejection.

when apply ESTA

You should apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before your flight to 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 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 application?

Typically, it takes about 10 minutes to complete the ESTA application, as long as you have all the information about your upcoming trip to the USA, as well as personal information about your passport and your employer.

Can I update my ESTA Visa?

You can update the following information in your ESTA:

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

Before re-entering the USA, we recommend adjusting the US address provided if it has changed.

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

ESTA for children

A valid travel authorization in the form of a US visa or ESTA is also required for children to enter the USA. This also applies in case of a short stopover at an American airport for transferring to another aircraft.

For children under the age of 18, the ESTA form must be completed by the parents or other appropriate third parties, such as the travel agent or an ESTA agency. The "Employer" item does not need to be filled out for children, only the passport information, US address, and parent information.

ESTA Application for children

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

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 are required to apply for an ESTA before traveling to the USA as well!

 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

Each person in a tour group needs their own valid ESTA to enter the United States. 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.

TIP

We recommend that you also apply for a full ESTA including an entry permit even for transit in the USA, as your travel permit will be valid for two years. This will give you the option to enter the USA for two years without having to reapply. This would not be possible with an ESTA for transit only.

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 and contract negotiations
  • Job fairs
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

Visa Waiver Program travelers entering the United States by land must also obtain ESTA approval as of October 2022. Thus, the same requirements now apply to all US travelers, regardless of the mode of transportation they use to 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!

TIP:

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