FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

CAN I PAY FOR TWO OR MORE APPLICATIONS WITH ONE PAYMENT?

Yes. The system allows for one payment for a group of two or more applications submitted at the same time. The persons in the group are not required to travel together.

HOW LONG IS MY APPLICATION DATA STORED?

ESTA application data remains active for the period of time that the approved ESTA is valid, which is generally two years, or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first. DHS will then maintain this information for an additional year after which it will be archived for twelve years to allow retrieval of the information for law enforcement, national security, or investigatory purposes. Once the information is archived, the number of officials with access to it will be further limited. This retention is consistent both with CBP’s border search authority and with the border security mission mandated for CBP by Congress. Data linked to active law enforcement lookout records, CBP matches to enforcement activities, and/or investigations or cases, including applications for ESTA that are denied, will remain accessible for the life of the law enforcement activities to which they are related.

DHS has transitioned to a paperless I-94W, therefore the ESTA application data will replace the data that is collected through the paper I-94W. In those instances where ESTA application data is used in lieu of the information collected through the paper I-94W, the ESTA application data will be maintained in accordance with the retention schedule for the I-94W, 75 years.

IS MY INFORMATION SHARED WITH ANYONE?

The information collected by and maintained in ESTA may be used by other components of DHS on a need-to-know basis consistent with the component’s mission.

Under current agreements between DHS and the Department of State (DOS), information submitted during an ESTA application may be shared with consular officers of DOS to assist them in determining whether a visa should be issued to an applicant after a travel authorization application has been denied.

HOW DO I RENEW MY ESTA?

If your ESTA has expired, you must reapply by submitting a new application. Existing authorizations cannot be extended.

DOES CBP SEND AN EMAIL NOTICE WHEN MY ESTA IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE?

If you provided ESTA with your email when you applied, you will receive an expiration notice when your ESTA is about to expire.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M NOT APPROVED FOR TRAVEL?

If you receive a Travel Not Authorized response to your travel authorization application, but wish to continue with your travel plans, please visit The Department of State Web site at www.travel.state.gov for additional information about applying for a visa. The denial of a travel authorization only prohibits travel under the Visa Waiver Program and is not a determination of eligibility for a visa to travel to the United States. In the event you are not approved for a travel authorization, no court shall have jurisdiction to review an eligibility determination under ESTA.

DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR AN ESTA ON BEHALF OF MY CHILDREN?

Yes, accompanied and unaccompanied children (regardless of age) who are nationals or citizens of visa waiver countries are required to have their own ESTA approval prior to their travel to the U.S.

HOW DO I CORRECT A MISTAKE ON MY APPLICATION?

The Web site will allow applicants to review and correct their data prior to submitting the application, including reconfirming the passport number. Prior to submitting an application with the required payment information, you can correct all application data fields except the passport number and passport issuing country. If an applicant made a mistake on their passport or biographical information he or she will need to submit a new application. The associated fee will be charged for each new application submitted. Any other mistakes may be corrected or updated by clicking “Check Individual Status” under “Check ESTA Status”. If the traveler made a mistake in answering the eligibility questions, please click on the CBP Info Center Link at the bottom of each page.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY PASSPORT INFORMATION HAS CHANGED OR EXPIRED?

If you obtain a new passport or there is a change to your passport information, you must apply for a new travel authorization and pay the associated fees. See What information can I update? for a full listing of information that can be changed after submission of your application.

WHAT INFORMATION CAN I UPDATE?

Prior to submitting an electronic travel authorization application with the required payment information, you can update all application data fields except the passport number and passport issuing country. Once an application is approved, you can still update any one of the following fields:

  • Email address
  • Address in the U.S.

HOW DOES THE U.S. GOVERNMENT PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF ESTA DATA AND WHO HAS ACCESS TO IT?

Information submitted by applicants through the ESTA Web site is subject to the same strict privacy provisions and controls that have been established for similar traveler screening programs. Access to such information is limited to those with a professional need to know.

IS MY PAYMENT INFORMATION SECURE?

Yes. The ESTA system does not retain your payment information after the transaction is processed.

IS MY INFORMATION SECURE?

Yes. The Web site is operated by the United States Government and employs technology to prevent unauthorized access to the information you enter and view. Additionally, this Web site operates under the rules and regulations as specified by the United States Privacy Act and this Privacy Statement to insure the privacy of your information.

WHEN WILL I HEAR BACK IF I’M APPROVED?

In most cases the Electronic System for Travel Authorization will return an Application Status immediately. In cases where more time is needed to process an electronic travel authorization application, an answer will be usually returned within 72 hours. Information will be provided to check the application status if you receive a pending response. The three possible responses to an electronic travel authorization application are:

Authorization Approved.

Your travel authorization has been approved and you are authorized to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. The system displays confirmation of the application approval and a payment receipt notice showing the amount charged to your credit card. A travel authorization does not guarantee admission to the United States as a Customs and Border Protection officer at a port of entry will have the final determination.

Travel Not Authorized.

You are not authorized to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. You may be able to obtain a visa from the Department of State for your travel. Please visit the United States Department of State Web site at www.travel.state.gov for additional information about applying for a visa. This response does not deny entry into the United States. This response only prohibits you from traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. The system also displays a payment receipt notice showing the amount charged to your credit card for the processing of the ESTA application.

Authorization Pending.

Your travel authorization is under review because an immediate determination could not be made for your application. This response does not indicate negative findings. A determination will usually be available within 72 hours. Please return to this Web site and click “Check ESTA Status”. Your application number, passport number, and birth date will be required to check the status of your application.

WHEN SHOULD I SUBMIT AN APPLICATION THROUGH ESTA?

Applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security recommends that travel authorization applications be submitted at least 72 hours prior to travel. Unless revoked, travel authorizations are valid for two years from the date of authorization, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

HOW LONG IS MY ESTA VALID FOR?

Unless revoked, travel authorizations are valid for two years from the date of authorization, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. The Authorization Approved screen displays your travel authorization expiration date.

WHY DO I NEED TO FILL OUT AN ESTA APPLICATION?

The “Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007” (9/11 Act) amended Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), requiring that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implement an electronic travel authorization system and other measures to enhance the security of the Visa Waiver Program. ESTA adds another layer of security that allows DHS to determine, in advance of travel, whether an individual is eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program and whether such travel poses a law enforcement or security risk.

WHO IS REQUIRED TO HAVE A TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION?

All passengers traveling under the Visa Waiver Program are required to have an approved travel authorization prior to traveling to the United States by air or sea. Even non-ticketed infants are required to have an approved travel authorization, if they do not have a visa for travel to the United States. An application may be submitted by a third party on behalf of a Visa Waiver Program traveler.

WHAT IS THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM?

The Visa Waiver Program allows foreign nationals from certain countries to travel to the United States for business or pleasure, for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Travelers admitted under the Visa Waiver Program must agree to waive their rights to review or appeal, as explained in the Waiver of Rights section of the Application screen.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION?

You are eligible to apply for admission under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if you:

  • Intend to enter the United States for 90 days or less for business, pleasure or transit
  • Have a valid passport lawfully issued to you by a Visa Waiver Program country
  • Arrive via a Visa Waiver Program signatory carrier
  • Have a return or onward ticket
  • Travel does not terminate in contiguous territory or adjacent islands unless the traveler is a resident of one of those areas
  • Are a citizen or national of one of the Visa Waiver Program countries listed below:
      • Andorra
      • Australia
      • Austria
      • Belgium
      • Brunei
      • Chile
      • Czech Republic
      • Denmark
      • Estonia
      • Finland
      • France
      • Germany
      • Greece
      • Hungary
      • Iceland
      • Ireland
      • Italy
      • Japan
      • Latvia
      • Liechtenstein
      • Lithuania
      • Luxembourg
      • Monaco
      • Netherlands
      • New Zealand
      • Norway
      • Portugal
      • Republic of Malta
      • San Marino
      • Singapore
      • Slovakia
      • Slovenia
      • South Korea
      • Spain
      • Sweden
      • Switzerland
      • Taiwan
      • United Kingdom

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ESTA AND A VISA?

An approved travel authorization is not a visa. It does not meet the legal or regulatory requirements to serve in lieu of a United States visa when a visa is required under United States law. Individuals who possess a valid visa will still be able to travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. Individuals traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for a travel authorization.