ESTA Guide

ESTA Guide – Step by Step

In the following, a detailed instruction on how to complete your ESTA application is presented. All pieces of information should be given truthfully, because untrue statements could lead to problems when attempting to enter the US. In the worst case, wrong answers could result in an ESTA rejection.

Please keep in mind that all information you need to provide is intended to enhance the security of the United States. Thus, your data will only be submitted to the responsible US authorities, but not to any other third party. 

ESTA

The official travel authorization for your trip to the USA!

General Information

We are happy to assist you in applying for your ESTA, so that you can have a successful trip to the USA!  For your application, you should be prepared to have the following information ready to hand: 

  • 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. 

ATTENTION 

If questions should arise in the course of the application, you are welcome to contact our service team. We look forward to supporting you while filling in your ESTA application. 

Tel.: +49 30 95 9996 556

E-Mail: info@esta-online.org 

Business hours: Mo - Sun. (including holidays) from 06 a.m - 10 p.m (CET)

Step 1: Personal and Travel Data

Create an ESTA Account

Before you can start filling in your ESTA application, you have to create a customer account. As an ESTA is valid for two years, you can log into your account and check your ESTA status at any time after applying for your ESTA. Please use a valid e-mail address and choose a secure password in order to generate a valid ESTA account.

Create an ESTA Account

Accept the 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 visas as well as all topics concerning the United States.

In order for us to file your ESTA application on your behalf and submit it to the US authorities as well as to collect and process your personal data in accordance with the German Data Protection Act (GDPA), it is indispensable for us to receive your consent. In order to allow us to submit your ESTA application, simply click on the two boxes at the bottom left to check them.

Accept conditions

Quantity of people

After successfully generating a personal customer account, you can then include the number of travellers. Do you only want to apply for an ESTA for yourself or do fellow travellers have to be included in a group application? The number you enter here decides how many ESTA applications you would like to register for. 

Afterwards, please enter all data for every individual applicant one after the other. 

Quantity of people

Should you also enter the details of fellow travellers as part of a group application, we recommend you to get a copy of every traveller's passport for the ESTA application completion. This allows you to doublecheck all data again. 

Personal Data

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

Note: If your name has changed due to marriage (or other reasons) please enter your maiden name at a later step in the application as your alias.

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. All first and middle names in the ESTA application must be identical to those on your passport.

ESTA first names in the passport

In this case, you need to enter two first names as well as one last name, as you can see in the first line within the black 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 US authorities do not yet offer the third gender for selection. In this case, please select the option you feel most comfortable with. The selected gender has no effect on the approval or rejection of your ESTA application!

Gender in the ESTA application

Alias / Pseudonym

An alias is for instance:

  • 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:

Alias in the ESTA application

Date 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".

Date of Birth 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 of your place or country of birth.

Country and Place of Birth in the ESTA application

Names of Parents

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

Names of parents in the ESTA application

Please thoroughly doublecheck your name, date of birth as well as passport details before continuing in the ESTA registration process! Errors that might occur in this step, such as transposed numbers or typing mistakes, cannot be noticed by us, because we do not have your documents! 

Contact Details of the Applicant

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

Phone Number

Enter the telephone number where you can best be reached. You can choose between the following options: 

  • Job
  • Landline
  • Mobile
  • Other

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

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. If you decide for this option, please 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

Home address in the ESTA application

E-Mail Address

Please also provide an E-Mail address that you can access on an unrestricted basis. Your approved ESTA confirmation will later be send to this E-Mail address. 

E Mail address in the ESTA application

ATTENTION 

ESTA Online will always send your ESTA approval as a PDF attachment via E-Mail to you. Therefore, please pay attention to check your E-Mail Inbox as well as the Spam folder on a regular basis. As a standard rule, postal dispatch of your ESTA confirmation does not take place, but can be requested. 

Information on your employment

If you are or ever were employed, you need to answer 'Yes' to this question. As a consequence, the employer is required to complete the ESTA application. 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.

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

Since the end of May 2020 you must also provide information about your online presence of the past 5 years. If you do have social media accounts that you have used during this time, you have to answer 'Yes' to this question. Furthermore, you need to enter the corresponding ID or your user, profile or screen name as chosen for the respective social media supplier.

Social Media in the ESTA application

If you do not use social media, you can answer this question with 'No'. 

The US authorities intend to use this data query to identify terrorists more quickly to protect national security. They should only have the possibility to read public posts, so that your privacy is not affected! A good time to check your own settings for Facebook & Co again.

In general you don't need to worry about this, because the ESTA authorization is usually an automatic process where only in exceptional cases (special circumstances) a manual review of the entered data is performed.

Emergency Contact Details

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

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, but for instance only change flights at an American airport.

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 initially need the ESTA entry permit for a transit only, we nevertheless recommend that you always apply for a regular ESTA as a precaution, since the ESTA usually is valid for 2 years, which means that you can use it again when reentering the US in this time period. If you have no US contact due to the planned transit, enter the name and address of the US airport where you will arrive at.

US 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 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 a planned accommodation or anything comparable. However, we strongly would like to encourage you to include a US contact if possible.

US contact in the ESTA application

Passport Information

Please make sure that the information you enter into the system is your correct passport information. We would not notice a typing error nor transposed numbers at this point, as we do not have your original documents. The result of entering wrong data could be an unnecessary rejection of your ESTA application.

If you are submitting ESTA applications for fellow travellers as well, we do recommend you to obtain a copy of all other participants' passports, so that you can doublecheck all data and make sure that everything is entered correctly.  

Citizenship

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

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

Citizenship in the ESTA application

The abbreviation for the citizenship can usually be found in the middle of the passport on the right side (see the black marking in our example).

Passport Country of Issue

The issuing country is, at least in most cases, identical with the citizenship.

Passport issuing country in the ESTA application

However, you can check this again in order to make sure that it's identical. You will find the country of issue as a country code in your passport under the name "Code".

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". In Finland, also a 9-digit combination of numbers and letters is used.

Other countries such as Austria or Switzerland for instance only have an 8-digit combination (1 letter and 7 numbers). 

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!

Children's passports may not be used, since they contain no electronic data and thus, are no biometric passport, which is mandatory for the ESTA entry authorization.

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.

Passport Issuing Date for the ESTA application

The black marking indicates where you can usually find the issuing date of your passport.

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.

Passport Expiry date for the ESTA application

The black marking indicates where you can usually find your passport's date of expiration.

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).

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.

Other citizenships 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 elaborate on how you obtained this citizenship.

Other Citizenships in the Past

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

Former citizenship of another country in the ESTA application

Global Entry Membership

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

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

Global Entry Membership in the ESTA application

Filling out the ESTA Security Questions

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

  • Health
  • Criminal records
  • Drugs and drug abuse
  • Terrorist Intentions
  • Former VISA/ESTA Fraud
  • Work intentions in the U.S.
  • Unauthorized exceeding of the duration of stay in the USA
  • Citizenships of or travel to certain 'trouble'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 to enter the USA (with an ESTA) if the US 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-application.com"-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
  • Cholera
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Diphtheria
  • Granuloma inguinale
  • Chancroid
  • Plague
  • Infectious leprosy
  • Smallpox
  • Yellow fever
  • Active tuberculosis
  • Syphilis (infectious stage)
  • Viral haemorrhagic fever, including Ebola, Lassa, Marburg, Crimean-Congo fever
  • Acute respiratory diseases that are transmissible to others and can be fatal (for example the corona virus)

If you have suffered from one of these diseases in the past, but are now cured, you can answer "No", but 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.

Please bare in mind that convictions and sentences do not become time-barred for the US authorities.

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 US authorities noticed that you knowingly provided false information when applying for a US visa or ESTA in the past, you must answer "Yes" here. As this means that you have practically no chance of entering the United States, you should make sure that you always answer all the questions in the ESTA application truthfully, so that such a case will never occur!

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 US 
    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 was denied in the past or if you were denied entry to the US at the US 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 US visa or ESTA, you must answer "Yes" to this question.

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

The US authorities classify Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, North Korea, Libya, and Syria as problematic countries and would therefore not grant you a 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 US authorities (the responsible Department of Homeland Security). To do so, place two checkmarks in the appropriate place.

Confirmation of Comprehension and Order in the ESTA application

Step 2: Summary of Your Data

After completing the ESTA application, an overview of all of your entered data will be displayed. We kindly would like to ask you to carefully doublecheck all information you have provided. If you notice any errors, you can use the pencil symbols to go directly to the section of the application.

Step 3: Decide for the appropriate service package

Trust our competent expert service and our ESTA experts. We offer 3 different service packages for your ESTA application.

Are you interested in a basic application or would you like to use our "all-inclusive" package? 

Choose between the packages Economy, Premium, or First Class.

Paket auswählen im ESTA Antrag

Step 4: Payment

In the penultimate 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
  • EPS
  • PayPal
  • Instant bank transfer

After you have agreed to our general terms and conditions, the data protection declaration, and the premature expiry of the right of withdrawal, you can click on the button 'Continue to payment page' to reach the page that allows you to complete the payment. Your ESTA application will then be transmitted to us and we will start working on it. 

Step 5: 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 US authorities and afterwards, you will shortly be notified of your status by e-mail.

Note: It can take up to 72 hours for the US authorities to process your application! However, we usually process your application immediately after receipt.

Apply for ESTA now