The application for the US entry permit is complex and throws up some questions. Here are the answers to the most common ESTA questions!


The official entry permit for the USA!

Do I have to print my ESTA application?

You are not required to print your ESTA application and bring it with you to the USA, but we highly recommend it. There are advantages to having your authorized ESTA printed out and with you while traveling:

  • If you happen to have made a mistake in your ESTA application, it is easier to spot when your ESTA has been printed than having to log in to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to check your data.
  • In general, the airlines have the necessary software to electronically check if you are traveling with an ESTA. In case of a technical failure, it is always better to have your ESTA printed and on hand.
  • Printing your ESTA can help you answer questions asked by the border officer. The answers you give to the border officer should be the same as those in your ESTA.
  • If you plan to travel to the USA again, you can easily check the validity of your ESTA on the printed documents.


If you apply for your ESTA at ESTA-Application, we will send you your travel authorization immediately via e-mail. You can also review your ESTA at any time online in your customer account, reprint it and take it with you on your trip to the USA.

Why would an ESTA application be denied?

There are many reasons why an ESTA application may be denied. In most cases, ESTA applications are denied because the applicant does not meet the requirements to travel visa-free to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program. Though the reasons are various, there are two main reasons:

1. ESTA denied because of mistakes in the data given

It is easy to make a typing mistake, especially if you are in a hurry. If your application has been denied, you should carefully check your application and see if there is a mistake in your name, passport data, date of birth, etc.

2. ESTA denied despite correct data

Have you double-checked your ESTA application and are certain that there are no mistakes? And despite this, your ESTA has still been denied? There are a few reasons for this:

  • You have the same name as someone who the US authorities are keeping an eye on
  • You are a dual citizen of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, or North Korea
  • You answered “yes” to one of the security questions
  • A previous visa or ESTA application was denied
  • In the past, you have stayed in the USA longer than your ESTA or visa allowed
  • You are a US Green Card holder and can, therefore, travel to the USA without restrictions - even without ESTA

The US authorities will not tell you why your ESTA application was denied. Instead, you will receive a status update notifying you that your ESTA has not been authorized. That is why it is important to double-check your application for possible mistakes and if necessary, ask to have your ESTA application reset.

ESTA with 2 nationalities

If you have 2 nationalities, both must be included in the ESTA application, even if you only have one passport. If you do not disclose a nationality, you risk that your ESTA will be rejected.

Can I apply for an ESTA with previous convictions?

There are many factors that come into play when applying for an ESTA with a previous conviction. That is why having a conviction does not fundamentally lead to your ESTA application being denied. It is of utmost importance, however, to be truthful in your ESTA application and list all previous convictions. If a US border officer finds inconsistencies in your application, they may refuse you entry into the USA.

Whether or not an ESTA Visa will be denied depends on the type of crime you committed. For example, if it was only a small traffic offense that happened long ago, the chance that your ESTA will be authorized is very high. On the other hand, felons or repeat offenders will be denied entry into the USA. 

What is the National ID?

National ID stands for National Identification Number. Every country in the European Economic Area is assigned a code so that every citizen can be easily identified. It can either be a tax number, social insurance number, or a personal identification number – the code differs from country to country which is why your national identification number depends on your citizenship.

Not all countries in the Visa Waiver Program are required to give a national identification number when applying for an ESTA. 

What is an overstay?

The term overstay is assigned to people who stay in the USA longer than their travel authorization or visa allows. An overstay can lead to negative consequences when trying to reenter the United States or applying for a US visa later.

How long does the ESTA processing take?

The US authorities take up to 72 hours - in some cases even longer - to process an ESTA application. Real-time ESTA approvals are no longer possible! We recommend that you apply for your ESTA 6-8 weeks prior to your USA trip to avoid being pressed for time.

Which countries are part of the VWP (Visa Waiver Program)?

Citizens of the following countries can apply for ESTA:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom.

Can ESTA be canceled?

No, an ESTA cannot be canceled, but must always be reapplied for again if something has changed in the personal data or passport data. In an existing ESTA, only the e-mail address and the specified address in the USA can be changed subsequently. An ESTA approval is generally valid for two years.

How often do I have to apply for ESTA?

You don't have to apply for ESTA often, but only every two years! The prerequisite for this is that your passport does not expire during this time and that your personal data does not change. You may then enter the USA several times with your ESTA for a maximum of 90 days without a visa!

Do I need an ESTA for my Caribbean cruise?

Yes, you need a valid ESTA for your Caribbean cruise if it departs from an American port or your flight stops over in the USA.

When I fly to the USA in a private jet - do I need ESTA?

To qualify for visa-free entry with ESTA, you must travel with a carrier that has agreed to participate in the Visa Waiver Program. This is the case with almost all airlines and shipping companies.

However, if you are traveling to the USA on a private jet, private plane, private ship, or private yacht, for example, you cannot use an ESTA and you will need a US visa.

ESTA and data security

Your data is of course safely stored with The American Dream and is transmitted to the US authorities with modern end-to-end encryption. From the time of transmission, your data is subject to the laws and regulations of the USA, such as the Federal Information Security Management Act.

How long is your data stored by the US authorities?

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may store your data internally for a maximum of one year after the ESTA expires. After that, all information is archived for another 12 years. It will then no longer be accessible for a new visa or ESTA applications and may only be viewed after special authorization for law enforcement, national security, or investigative purposes.

Will your data be passed on to other instances?

The American Dream will only share your information with the DHS in the context of the ESTA application and never with any other third party. However, the Department of Homeland Security reserves the right to pass on information to other authorities and organizations for the duration of internal storage, in particular for the processing of visa applications.

Airlines and shipping companies will generally not have access to any information from your ESTA application. They can only access the status of an ESTA application within the Advance Passenger Information System, the APIS.


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