Passport for your ESTA application

Are you planning to travel to the United States and you need to apply for an ESTA Visa? Then you will need a valid biometric passport! Learn more about the features of an e-passport.

ESTA

The official travel authorization for your trip to the USA!

What is a biometric passport?

A biometric passport, also known as electronic passport, e-passport or digital passport, is a paper passport containing electronic data stored on an integrated microchip.

Since 1 April 2016, only biometric passports have been accepted for the visa-free entry into the USA. This means that it must contain a chip that provides the biometric information of its holder.
German passports issued after November 1, 2007 not only contain two digital fingerprints, but also a digital biometric photo with the facial features of the holder as electronic data on the chip.

An e-passport can always be recognised by this symbol:

Symbol biometric passport

Expedited passport for ESTA?

Yes, you can use an expedited passport for your ESTA application as it is a fully valid document which has only been processed and issued in a faster procedure for an additional fee.

Temporary passport for the ESTA application?

No, unfortunately it is not possible to apply for an ESTA with a temporary passport and travel to the USA without a visa. We recommend that you apply for an expedited passport if you are under urgent time pressure, as this can be used for the ESTA application without any problems.

If you have applied for a new passport but have not yet received it, you need to wait with your ESTA application until you have your new passport in your hands.

Passport ESTA

Entry of passport data in the ESTA application

For the ESTA application it is mandatory that all contact information is entered correctly. As a rule, the spelling must be identical to the information in the passport, because an ESTA application is always linked to your passport.

The spelling in the machine-readable part of your passport is always the most relevant. However, if you have several first names, not all of them may be listed here.

Passport not accepted in ESTA application

If your passport is not accepted in your ESTA registration, first check that you have entered the passport number correctly. The number 0 and the letter O are often confused. 

Special features of the passport number

If your passport is not accepted at ESTA registration, first check that you have entered the passport number correctly.

This will follow certain rules depending on the country.

In Germany, for example, the following applies

  • always 9 digits/numbers
  • no vowels (a, e, i, o, u)
  • no umlauts (ä, ö, ü)
  • Waiver of b, s, q and d
  • no spaces

There is often confusion between the number 0 and the letter O. Since the letter O cannot appear in the passport number, German passports are always the number 0!

In Austria, for example, the following applies

  • 1 letter + 7 digits
  • no spaces

Does my child also need a passport for ESTA?

Yes, a valid biometric passport is also a mandatory requirement for your child's ESTA application.

The ESTA application cannot be made with a child passport or child ID as it is not electronically readable and therefore cannot be checked at the border control.
Consequently, children need a biometric and electronic passport (ePassport) for the ESTA registration and the vacation in the USA, which must be valid over the entire duration of the USA stay.

Validity of your passport

The required validity of the passport for the ESTA application depends on the nationality of the applicant. As a rule, each passport must be valid for at least another 6 months when you leave the USA, i.e. cover your entire stay on American soil plus 6 months.

An exception are the countries of the Sixth Month Club.

What is the Sixth Months Club?

However, the majority of persons who have received an ESTA travel authorisation are covered by the "Six Month Club" exemption. Travellers from Germany, Spain or Canada, for example, only need a passport, which must be valid for the duration of the planned stay. 

New passport - new ESTA?

As soon as you apply for a new passport, the validity of your approved ESTA application expires automatically, even if the 2 years have not yet been reached.

An ESTA approval is always linked to a passport and the corresponding passport number. Since your new passport will receive a different passport number, you will need to submit a new ESTA application.

I lost my passport - Is my ESTA still valid?

Have you lost your passport and reported this loss? Unfortunately, you can no longer use a lost or stolen passport for your ESTA authorisation, even if you find it again.

So if you have a valid ESTA and officially report the loss of your passport, you must always apply for a new entry permit.

If your passport is permanently lost, please apply for a new passport and afterwards for a new ESTA.

Entering a problematic country and ESTA

The USA has classified the following countries as critical due to the threat of terrorism:

  • Iraq
  • Iran
  • Yemen
  • Syria
  • Libya
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • North Korea

If you entered the listed countries on or after 01 March 2011, you cannot apply for an ESTA.

However, a stay in one of these countries after your ESTA was approved will also cause problems during a later US entry and can lead to the cancellation of your ESTA approval.

Upload your passport

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has updated the official ESTA website and starting from April 2018, it is possible to upload a picture of your machine-readable passport. By doing so, the biographic information saved in the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) will be automatically entered into the ESTA form.

image machine readable zone of passport

The Machine Readable Zone (marked in red) of your passport must fit in the photo completely so that your data can be read correctly.

 

If you apply for an ESTA over your mobile phone, it is possible to take a picture of your passport with your phone while applying. Your biographic information will be automatically entered, and you will not have to type all your data in. The photo will be accepted in the following formats if applying with a PC:

  • Gif
  • Png
  • Jpg
  • Jpeg

In both cases, it is important that the Machine Readable Zone can be seen in the photo completely so that all the data is uploaded correctly. The following data will be uploaded:

  • Last name
  • First name
  • Sex
  • Passport number
  • Issuing authority
  • Citizenship
  • Date of birth
  • Date of expiration
Image of passport upload

Double-check all information entered in the form and make sure your data is correctly submitted to the US authorities. Source: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

 

You are not required to upload a photo of your passport. Uploading a photo is purely optional – you can continue to enter in your data as usual. If you do choose to use the new photo upload method, then you should carefully check that all your data has been entered in the form correctly. Depending on the quality of the photo, it is possible for data to be uploaded incorrectly.

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