Problems with the ESTA application

Mistakes in the ESTA Application can have serious consequences! Not only can they lead to a refusal of the ESTA entry permit, but in the worst case, they can also result in a lifelong ban on visa-free entry into the USA. With our advice and consent, you can avoid problems with your ESTA application!


The official travel authorization for your trip to the USA!

Fault messages in the ESTA application

When attempting to enter your telephone number, e-mail address, or postal address, error messages often occur on the ESTA website of the official US authorities. Since the website is doing an automated data check, even correct data can mistakenly be identified as erroneous, which is the reason why you are not allowed to continue with the ESTA application. 

In such a case, please check your details again. If they are correct, please once again click on "Continue" at the bottom of the page. Usually, after the second submission, another message will appear in which you have to confirm that your information is correct by clicking the checkbox. You can then continue your application.

If you decide to submit your application via, we can guarantee that there will be no problems due to an automatic data check, as the USA experts at The American Dream will personally review your application before it is submitted to the US authorities. In case of discrepancies, we would contact you immediately by phone or e-mail.

 Problems with the ESTA application

I am unable to answer an ESTA question

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:

  • Passport data of a former passport/ID of another nation 
  • Information on your parents
  • Person of contact in the USA (please attempt to avoid filling in “UNKNOWN” here if possible)
  • Queries about your emergency contact

In unknown, but mandatory number fields, please always enter “00”.

Problem with the ESTA application phone number

This applies to the following number fields:

  • Telephone number emergency contact
  • Phone number US contact person
  • Postal code of address data of the applicant
  • Postal code of the US contact person
  • Postal code of employer in the information on the employment

Problems with the payment of the ESTA application

The ESTA application is not correctly submitted until payment of the ESTA fee has been successfully received by the US authorities. Problems with the payment can therefore result in your application not being processed at all.

On the official website of the US authorities, you do have the option to pay with a credit card or via PayPal. In the following, probable causes for a problem with the payment of the ESTA application fee will be enumerated:   

Payment method

Probable cause

Credit card

Typing error when entering credit card data

Credit card is expired

Credit card is not covered

Credit card is blocked

Transaction is invalid


Your PayPal account is in minus

Transaction was rejected by the bank due to insufficient coverage

At, you can pay by credit card and PayPal as well as Giropay, Apple Pay, EPS, and Sofort.

Lost ESTA application number - what to do now?

If you submit your ESTA application on the website of the official US authorities, you must check your ESTA Status yourself.

For the query, you have the possibility to choose between the following 2 options:


Option 1

Option 2

Passport number

Passport number

Date of birth

Date of birth

ESTA application number

Country of citizenship


Date of issuance of the passport


Expiration date of the passport

So if you have forgotten or lost your ESTA application number, you can still easily retrieve your ESTA status or the validity of your ESTA using option 2 above.

For customers of, we take care of checking the ESTA status inquiry for you and send the ESTA confirmation additionally as a PDF attachment via e-mail.

US entry with an ESTA without a return ticket?

Entering the USA with ESTA is only possible if you already have a return ticket or a ticket for onward travel.

If you have an ESTA entry permit but have only booked the outbound flight, you will probably not even be allowed to board the plane to the USA. Since the airlines would have to pay for your return flight at the US border in the event of a refusal, they are usually particularly careful here.

If you only travel to the United States with a one-way ticket, the US authorities fear that you might not want to leave the country and therefore suspect an illegal immigration intention.

The return ticket is therefore your proof that you will leave the country or continue your journey at a reasonable time.


Loss or theft of the passport

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 at a later point 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 both 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.


Entering a problematic country

The USA classifies the following countries as problematic:

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

If you have traveled to one of the above-mentioned countries after March 1st, 2011, you will not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program and must apply for a US visa instead.

Even an ESTA that has already been approved will immediately lose its validity as soon as you visit one of the countries classified as problematic after receiving the ESTA confirmation.

Denied a US visa – Can I travel with ESTA?

If you have ever been denied a US visa, you automatically no longer qualify for the Visa Waiver Program.

In the ESTA application, you will be asked explicitly in the context of security questions whether a visa application has ever been rejected in the past. If you answer "Yes" to this question, your ESTA application will most certainly also be rejected. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend that you always answer truthfully!

If you have a valid ESTA permit and a US visa application is rejected afterwards (the reason is not important), your ESTA will automatically lose its validity.

ESTA Check

Correcting mistakes in the ESTA application

In case you notice a mistake only after your ESTA has been approved, you will need to submit a new ESTA application before entering the United States. Since an ESTA is always passport bound, the data must match 100 %. If they do not, you will probably not even be allowed to board the plane to the USA.

As an customer, we will be happy to help you in this situation and take care of both the correspondence with the CBP (United States Customs and Border Protection) and the correction of your application, if possible.

Correction in an existing ESTA

In an existing ESTA, only the e-mail address and the address in the USA can be subsequently adjusted.

Correction of personal data

For the correction of all other data except e-mail address and address in the USA, you must apply for a new ESTA. You will then be notified that an ESTA already exists for the given passport number and be asked whether you want to continue nonetheless. You must confirm that you intend to submit a new ESTA application and thus overwrite the incorrect one.

Correction of the security questions

If you have accidentally answered one of the nine security questions incorrectly, there is basically no way to correct this. In such a case you will automatically be excluded from the Visa Waiver Program and thus, always have to apply for a US visa for future trips to the USA instead.

My ESTA has been denied - what to do now?

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:

1) If your ESTA was rejected due to a typo, you can apply for a new one and overwrite the incorrect ESTA.

2) If there is another reason for the rejection, e.g., a positive answer to one of the 9 security questions, you have to apply for a US visa instead.

Please note: In case of a rejection, the US authorities will not fully reimburse you for the costs of your ESTA application!

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