ESTA Guide

ESTA Guide – Step by Step

Below you will find detailed instructions on how to complete your ESTA Visa application. All information should be truthful, otherwise you might have problems entering the USA. Please keep in mind that this information is intended to enhance the security of the United States.

ESTA

The official travel authorization for your trip to the USA!

General Information

We will gladly support you with your ESTA application so that you can have a successful trip to the USA! You should have the following information ready for your application:

  • Valid biometric passport
  • Personal data (including names of your parents)
  • If applicable: address of current or former employer
  • Address of your accommodation or contact person in the USA
  • Your payment information (bank details, PayPal, credit card etc.)

All mandatory fields in the application form are marked with an asterisk (*) and must be completed. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call us!

Step 1: Personal and Travel Data

Create ESTA Account

Before you can start filling out your ESTA application, you must create a customer account first. As an ESTA is valid for two years, you can log into your account and check your ESTA status at any time. Please use a valid e-mail address and set a secure password for this step.

Image of the Step: Create ESTA Account

Accept Conditions

ESTA-Online is part of The American Dream-US Services GmbH – for over 20 years Europe's largest service provider for the US Green Card Lottery, US Visa as well as all topics around the United States.

In order for us to file your ESTA application with the US authorities on your behalf and to collect and process your personal data in accordance with the German Data Protection Act (DSGVO), you must give us your consent. In order to do so, simply click on the two boxes at the bottom left to tick them.

Image of the Step: Accept Conditions

Personal Data

The entry of personal data such as name and date of birth are mandatory fields of the ESTA application. It is very important that all your details are identical to those in your passport!

Should you also enter the details of fellow travellers in the course of a group application, it is best to get a copy of their passports for completing the ESTA application. That way you can check all their details again.

All First Name(s)

When stating your first name, you must include all first names that are listed in your passport! It does not matter whether only one is used as the first name. The first names in the ESTA application must be identical to those on your passport.

Image of the ESTA - First names in the passport

In this case, you only need to enter one first and one last name, as you can see in the first line within the red marking.


If you do not have a first name, enter the letters FNU (First Name Unknown).

Gender

You only have the options "male" and "female" here. The U.S. authorities do not yet offer the third gender for selection. In this case, select the option you feel most comfortable with. The selected gender has no effect on the approval or rejection of your ESTA application!

Image of the Step 'Gender' in the ESTA application

Day of Birth

Please enter your day of birth as it appears in your passport. The practical dropdown function automatically transfers it in the correct format "DD.MM.YYYY".

Image of the Step 'Day of Birth' in the ESTA application

Alias / Pseudonym

An alias is for example:

  • a professional pseudonym, e.g. for artists or writers
  • the original surname ("maiden name"), if you adopted the surname of your partner at the wedding.

If your alias only consists of one name, please enter the letters FNU in the "First name" field:

Image of the Step 'Alias' in the ESTA application

Country and Place of Birth

Please enter your place and country of birth as they appear in your passport. In rare cases, place names may be changed over time. For example, if you are applying for a new ESTA due to a new passport, check again to see if there have been any changes in the name or spelling.

Image of the Step 'Country and Place of Birth' in the ESTA application

Names of Parents

The names of the parents are also mandatory fields. If you do not or only partially know these names, please enter 'UNKNOWN' in the appropriate fields.

Image of the Step 'Names of Parents' in the ESTA application

Check your name, birth and passport details carefully once again! Errors that occur here, such as transposed digits or typos, will not be noticed because we do not have your documents!

Contact Details of the Applicant

Your current contact details such as address and telephone number are also required fields and must be filled in.

Phone Number

Enter the telephone number where you can best be reached. You can choose here:

  • Job
  • Landline
  • Mobile
  • Other

You can select the country code from the dropdown menu. Please enter your phone number including the area code and without any spaces in the field "Phone".

Image of the Step 'Phone Number' in the ESTA application

If you do not have a phone number, you can also enter the phone number of a contact person, such as a family member, friend, or business associate. Then select "Other" in the dropdown menu for "Type of phone number".

Home Address

The indication of a valid address is essential when applying for an ESTA and must be submitted!

In the ESTA-Online form street names can be abbreviated in the usual way. The following spellings would therefore be possible:

  • Main St.
  • Main Str.
  • Main Street

Image of the Step 'Home Address' in the ESTA application

Employment Information

The employer is required to complete the ESTA application if you answered 'Yes' to the question. In this case, please indicate the name of the company or organisation of your current or former employer.

What is often overlooked when answering this question is that the following information is also allowed in the "Name of employer" field:

  • Self-employed
  • Student
  • Child
  • Housewife
  • Daily Parent

You can also enter any other wording here to describe your current employment status.

Image of the Step 'Employment Information' in the ESTA application

However, if you have never been employed in any form, you can answer the question about your employment with 'No'.

Social Media (Optional)

The information about your social media profiles such as Facebook or Instagram is voluntary and can be answered with 'No' without having to fear being denied.

If you have such a profile and would like to answer 'Yes' to this question, please select the appropriate platform and enter the corresponding ID or your user, profile or screen name as chosen for the respective social media supplier.

Image of the Step 'Social Media' in the ESTA application

Emergency Contact Details

In case something happens to you in the USA (an accident, serious illness, etc.), the U.S. authorities would inform your emergency contact. This can be someone inside or outside the U.S., such as

  • a family member
  • a friend
  • a business associate.

All fields must also be completed here! If you don't have an emergency contact or don't know the last name, you can fill in the fields with 'UNKNOWN' and/or enter two zeros (00) for the phone number.

Image of the Step 'Emergency Contact Details' in the ESTA application

Travel Information

The amount of the requested travel information depends on whether the USA is your final destination or if your trip is in transit to another country, which means you would not leave the airport.

Image of the Step 'Travel Information' in the ESTA application

If you would like to enter the USA, this question needs to be answered with "No" and a contact person in the USA has to be indicated.

ATTENTION

Even if you only need the entry permit for a transit this time, you should keep in mind that your ESTA is valid for 2 years and that this point cannot be changed afterwards! If you plan to travel to the USA within the next 2 years, you would have to apply for a new ESTA then.

Therefore, we recommend that you do not just tick Transit. If it is really just a short transit this time, you can also enter the address of your airport in the USA.

U.S. Contact

Your contact person within the USA could be, for example:

  • a friend
  • a relative
  • a business associate

However, if you do not know anyone in the USA or you are planning a round trip, it is best to state the name, address and phone number of your (first) place of accomodation in the USA, e.g. a hotel.

You can also fill in the fields with 'UNKNOWN' if you really don't have accommodation or something similar. However, if you have an address, we strongly recommend that you provide it.

Image of the Step 'U.S. Contact' in the ESTA application

Passport Information

When entering your passport details, please make sure that they are correct. We would not notice a typo or a transposed number at this point because we do not have your document. The result would be an unnecessary denial of your ESTA application.

If you are submitting a group application, it is best to have a copy of the passports of the other travellers so that you can check their data again.

Citizenship

Since not all countries are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, your citizenship is critical for obtaining the U.S. travel authorization.

When completing the ESTA application, please select the appropriate country according to your passport's citizenship from the dropdown menu.

Image of the Step 'Nationality' in the ESTA application

On German passports, for example, you will find the Citizenship under point 5.



Passport Country of Issue

The country of issue is in most cases identical with the citizenship.

Image of the Step 'Passport Issuing Country' in the ESTA application

However, you can check this again to be sure. You will find the country of issue as a country code in your passport under the name "Code" or similar.

Image of the country code on your passport for the ESTA application

Usually, you will find the Country Code at the top centre of your passport.

The Passport Number - What you have to know! 

In Germany, for example, the passport number consists of a 9-digit combination of numbers and letters. Please note that it never contains the letter "O" but only the number "0". You will find the number on the first page of your passport (the so-called plastic card) usually at the top right under "Passport No.".

It is not possible to provide a passport number from a temporary passport or a children's passport!

Image of the Passport Number for the ESTA application

You should find the Passport Number at the top right of your passport.

ATTENTION

If you have applied for a new passport, you must also apply for a new ESTA, as this will inevitably change the passport number.

Passport Date of Issue

The date of issue of your passport is essential for applying for an ESTA. You will find it under the same name in your passport.

Image of the Passport Issuing Date for the ESTA application

Passport Date of Expiry

How long your passport needs to be valid for your ESTA application depends on your citizenship. Germany, for instance, belongs to the so-called Six Month Club, so the passport of German citizens must be valid at least until they leave the USA.

Image of the Passport Expiry Date for the ESTA application

Passport or Identity Card from another Country

If you have ever received or still hold a passport or identity card from a country other than the issuing country of your passport specified in the ESTA application, you must answer this question with "Yes" and provide the following information:

  • Country of issue
  • Type of document (passport or identity card)
  • Document number (passport number or identity card number)
  • Expiration year

If you do not know the expiration year and/or document number, you can also enter four zeros (0000).

Image of the Step 'Another Country' in the ESTA application

This is the case, for example, with dual citizenship or a change of citizenship in the past.

Other Citizenships at the Time of Application

If you have another nationality at the time of the ESTA application, i.e. a so-called dual citizenship, you must select the appropriate country from the dropdown menu.

Image of the Step 'Other Citizenship' in the ESTA application

You must also indicate how you acquired this citizenship. Different countries have different laws for obtaining citizenship, such as the principle of descent in Germany. The following options are therefore available to you when you fill out this question:

  • Ancestry (one or both parents are citizens of this country)
  • Naturalization (you have applied for and obtained citizenship)
  • Birth (you were born in the country)
  • Other

If you choose "Other", you must briefly explain how you obtained this citizenship.

Other Citizenships in the Past

If in the past - i.e. before filling in the ESTA application - you have held a nationality that you have surrendered, please select the appropriate country from the dropdown menu.

Image of the Step 'Other Citizenship in the Past' in the ESTA application

Global Entry Membership

If you are participating in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Entry Program for facilitated entry into the United States, please enter your 9-digit membership number here.

You will find this number in your Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account.

Image of the Step 'Global Entry Membership' in the ESTA application

Filling out the ESTA Security Questions

To enable the U.S. authorities to assess possible risk factors of the traveler, there are nine final security questions on the topics:

  • Health
  • Criminal records
  • Drugs
  • Terrorist Intentions
  • Former VISA/ESTA Fraud
  • Work intentions in the USA
  • Unauthorized exceeding of the duration of stay in the USA
  • Citizenships of or travel to certain countries

Again, it is extremely important to answer all questions truthfully. Please read them very carefully. In the worst case, you may be permanently denied entry to the USA if the U.S. authorities can prove a false statement.

If you have to answer 'Yes' to one or more questions, your ESTA application will be denied. In order to save you the unnecessary costs for the application, the ESTA-Online application cannot be completed in this case. You would have to apply for a US Visa instead.

1. Security Question: Health and Addictions

The first question raises many concerns when filling out the ESTA application – Do you have to answer "Yes" if you have the flu? No, you don't have to!

Whether a disease is a danger to the population depends on two factors:

  1. The disease is contagious and can be transmitted through body fluids, breath or insect bites.
  2. The spread of the disease is difficult to control and difficult to cure.

Although a flu or cold fulfils the conditions of factor 1, the spread can be controlled and the chances of recovery are very good. You can therefore answer "No" with a clear conscience at this point.

However, if you suffer from any of the following diseases, you must answer "Yes":

  • Lymphogranuloma venereum
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Granuloma inguinale
  • Chancroid
  • Infectious leprosy
  • Active tuberculosis
  • Syphilis (infectious stage)

If you have suffered from one of these diseases in the past, but are now cured, you can answer "No", but you should carry a medical certificate confirming this.

If you occasionally consume drugs that are allowed in your home country and do not have a serious addiction problem, you can answer "No" at this point. If you are a drug addict, however, you must answer "Yes".

2. Security Question: Previous Penalties or Convictions

The question of previous sentences and convictions only needs to be answered with "Yes" if the offence in question involved serious bodily harm or serious damage to property at an official authority.

However, if it is only a fine for speeding, for example, you can answer "No" here with reassurance.

3. Security Question: Drug Use or Trafficking

The question of illegal possession, consumption and trafficking of and with drugs is based on the first security question. It is important to note that you only have to answer "yes" to this question if it has brought you into conflict with the law in your country.

However, if you act within the framework of official legislation, you may tick "No" here!

Example:

Since the possession of up to 5g cannabis per person is permitted in the Netherlands, Dutch citizens may answer this question with "No" if they do not exceed this requirement.

4. Security Question: Terrorist Intentions

If you have not been involved in terrorist, espionage and/or sabotage activities in the past, or plan to be involved in such activities in the future, you can also answer "No" to this question.

5. Security Question: Former VISA/ESTA Fraud

If the U.S. authorities have noticed in the past that you knowingly provided false information when applying for a U.S. visa or ESTA, you must answer "Yes" here. As this means that you have practically no chance of entering the USA, you should make sure that you always answer all the questions in the ESTA application truthfully!

6. Security Question: Work Intentions in the USA

You only have to answer "Yes" to the question about work intentions or illegal employment in the USA in the past if

  1. you're planning on looking for a paid job in the U.S. 
    or
  2. You have worked in the USA in the past without a valid work visa.

However, this is not the case if, for example, your non-American employer sends you to a conference in the USA. In such cases, you may also stay in the USA with an ESTA for up to 90 days and can therefore answer this question with "No".

7. Security Question: Visa or ESTA Denial in the Past

If this is not your first ESTA application and an application has already been denied in the past or you have been denied entry to the U.S. at the U.S. border, you must answer "Yes" to this question. In this case, no ESTA will be granted to you.

8. Security Question: Unauthorised Exceeding of the Duration of Stay

The question of an unauthorized exceeding of the duration of stay refers to your possible USA visits in the past. If you have ever stayed in the United States longer than permitted by your U.S. visa or ESTA, you must answer "Yes" to this question.

9. Security Question: Citizenships of or Travel to Certain Countries

The U.S. authorities classify Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, North Korea, Libya and Syria as problematic countries and would therefore not grant you visa-free entry with an ESTA if you stayed in one of these countries after March 1, 2011.

The duration and reason for your stay is irrelevant. In this case you would have to apply for a visa.

Confirmation of Comprehension and Order

At this point, you must confirm that you have understood and truthfully answered all questions and that you authorize us to submit your application to the U.S. authorities. To do so, place two checkmarks in the appropriate place.

Image of the Step 'Confirmation of Order' in the ESTA application

Step 2: Summary of Your Data

After completing the ESTA application, your data will be displayed again for you to check. If you notice an error, you should use the 'Back' button to go back to the appropriate place and correct the data.

At this point, please take the time again to check your details carefully!

Step 3: Payment

In the second last step, the total amount to be paid will be displayed. At this point, you can also enter a possible voucher code. You can then conveniently choose between the following payment options:

  • Credit Card
  • Giropay
  • IDEAL
  • EPS
  • PayPal

Depending on the selected payment option, you will then be taken to the page for entering the payment data. Click on the 'Order now' button to send your ESTA application to us.

Step 4: Application Successfully Submitted

Congratulations! You have now come quite a bit closer to your USA trip. As soon as your application has been sent to us, we will carefully check your data and will contact you directly in case of any ambiguities.

Once all details are correct, we will submit your ESTA application to the U.S. authorities and you will shortly be notified of your status by email.

Note: It can take up to 72 hours for the U.S. authorities to process your application!

Apply for ESTA now