Errors in the ESTA application can have serious consequences: you may not only be denied entry but in the worst case, you may also be barred for life from entering the USA visa-free. Learn about the most common problems with the ESTA application and how to avoid them.
When entering telephone numbers, email addresses, or residential addresses, the ESTA website of the official US authorities often displays error messages. Both technical and organizational hurdles can block the application process.
Due to the automatic data checks, it can happen that correct data is classified as incorrect, and therefore you cannot continue the ESTA application. In this case, recheck your data and click "Continue" at the bottom of the page again. If a message asks you to confirm your information's correctness by checking a box, you will be allowed to continue with your ESTA application.
In addition to error-ridden data checks by the US government, the most common problems with ESTA applications include homemade mistakes, technical hurdles on the part of applicants, and organizational problems such as meeting deadlines and paying ESTA fees.
Common ESTA problems caused by the applicant are:
Common ESTA problems caused by the applicant's technical equipment:
Common ESTA problems of an organizational nature:
If you want to avoid these and other mistakes in your ESTA application, you can apply via ESTA-application.com. The USA experts at The American Dream will personally review your information and discuss any discrepancies with you before your data is submitted to the US authorities.
If you do not know any of the information requested in the ESTA application, you have the option of answering with “UNKNOWN” in the following mandatory fields:
In unknown, but mandatory number fields, please always enter “00”. This applies to the following number fields:
The ESTA application is only completed when the US authorities have successfully received the payment of the ESTA fee. Problems with the payment may result in your application not being processed.
On the official website of the US authorities, you can pay with your credit card or PayPal. During this process, you may encounter different problems that lead to a payment cancellation.
If paying your ESTA application with PayPal is failing, this can be due to various reasons. Among the most common ones are:
If you have problems with credit card payment when applying for ESTA, this can be due to the following reasons:
If ESTA payment is impossible, you must restart the application process. Unfortunately, you cannot make a subsequent payment after completing your ESTA application.
To avoid problems when paying for the ESTA application, you can submit the form via ESTA-application.com. In addition to paying by credit card and PayPal, you can also pay by Giropay, Apple Pay, EPS, and Sofortüberweisung.
Should you submit your ESTA application on the website of the official US authority, you will have to check your ESTA status on your own. For the query, you can choose between providing the following data:
Therefore, if you have forgotten or lost your ESTA application number, you can still easily retrieve your ESTA status or validity using option two above. For customers of ESTA-application.com, we take over the status query and send the ESTA application result via email as a PDF.
Traveling to the USA has become easy since the introduction of the electronic travel authorization ESTA because now you don't have to apply for a visa for your stay in the United States. Nevertheless, you must follow some rules to avoid ESTA problems when entering the country.
Entering the United States with ESTA is only possible if you have a return or onward ticket. If you have an ESTA permit but have only booked the outbound flight so far, you will probably not be allowed to fly to the USA.
This is because your return or onward ticket proves that you intend to leave the United States at the end of your vacation or business trip (and not live or work in the US illegally).
Since your ESTA is always tied to your passport, the entry permit will immediately lose its validity once you report your passport as stolen or lost. Even if you should find your passport later in time, you will not be able to enter the USA with the ESTA confirmation since the passport was reported as stolen or lost.
In this situation, you would have to apply for a new passport and a new ESTA to qualify for the Visa Waiver Program to the USA. Alternatively, you could report the passport as 'found' via the local citizens' office, but this is usually a relatively complicated and time-consuming process which, moreover, cannot guarantee you entry into the USA.
The USA classifies the following countries as problematic:
If you traveled to Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, North Korea, Libya, or Syria after March 1st, 2011, or to Cuba after January 12th, 2021, you no longer qualify for visa-free travel to the United States with ESTA and must apply for a US visa.
Even ESTA authorizations that have already been approved immediately lose their validity as soon as you visit one of the countries classified as problematic.
If you notice an error after your ESTA has already been approved, you will need to submit a new ESTA application before entering the United States.
As a client of ESTA-application.com, we will be happy to help you in this situation and handle both the correspondence with CBP (United States Customs and Border Protection) and the correction of the application, if possible.
In an already approved ESTA, only the email address, as well as the first residence address in the USA, can be subsequently adjusted.
For the correction of all other data except email addresses and residential addresses in the USA, you must apply for a new ESTA. You will then receive a notice that an ESTA already exists for the passport number provided and will be asked if you still wish to proceed. Confirm this, and you will overwrite the incorrect application.
If you have accidentally answered one of the nine security questions incorrectly, there will be no way to correct this. Suppose you respond "yes" to the ESTA security questions. In that case, you will automatically be excluded from visa-free travel with ESTA and must apply for a visa for a future trip to the USA.
There are numerous reasons for an ESTA denial. Unfortunately, the US authorities do not publish reasons for their decision, so you will never know for sure what caused the rejection. However, this does not necessarily mean that you are no longer allowed to enter the USA!
In case of an ESTA refusal, you have the following options:
Please note: In case of a rejection, the US authorities will not fully reimburse you for the costs of your ESTA application!
If you have ever been denied a US visa, you no longer qualify for the Visa Waiver Program.
In the ESTA application, you will be asked whether a visa application has ever been rejected in the past. If you answer "Yes" to this question, your ESTA application will certainly be rejected. If you have a valid ESTA permit and a US visa application is rejected afterwards, your ESTA will automatically lose its validity.
Nevertheless, we strongly recommend always answering truthfully in the ESTA application because deliberate misrepresentation may result in several years of entry bans as well as criminal prosecution.