Do you know what ESTA is? If you don’t know, you’re in the right place to find out all the information you need about this automated system.
Well, Electronic System for Travel Authorization or short ESTA is a system that allows US authorities such as the Department of Homeland Security to verify that you are eligible to visit the United States without a visa or not. So, if you are planning a trip to the USA, this system can provide you with visa-free travel. Of course, it isn’t so simple because there are certain conditions that each person must meet before obtaining a permit.
The first thing you need to do is to apply for ESTA online on the official website. In fact, it’s the official site of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but it is important that you don’t apply on fake websites that can be found on the Internet, as you will need to enter sensitive information and make payment. So, the only safe solution is to visit their official site which you can find on this link.
We must say that ESTA is a much more modern way of obtaining a permit to travel to the United States than some of the previous systems. For example, you may have heard of the green I-94W form that passengers filled in during the plane flight. The biggest problem was that all the people who wanted to be granted entry into the U.S. found out only after the plane landed what their status was or whether they had been approved or not. Unlike that system, ESTA lets you know immediately whether or not you can travel as soon as you fill in some of the information on the site.
Also, there are some other requirements that you must meet in order to apply for ESTA. The first and basic thing is that you must be a citizen of the country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program. You can check it out on the official website as there is a list of 38 countries. Some of the requirements are that you have a valid passport of your home country, that your travel purpose is business or tourist and that you don’t plan to stay longer than 90 days.
After satisfying these requirements, you will need to enter your basic information, employment details, and make a payment using your online payment card (VISA, American Express, Discover, MasterCard or PayPal are accepted). The price you have to pay is $14, but it’s important to note that if you don’t get a permit, you will be charged $4. In essence, after filling in all the necessary information on the site, you will find out if you are suitable for traveling to the US or not and if everything is right, ESTA is valid for 2 years.
It is important to add that even if you get approved, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be accepted at the airport. The ESTA system is used to determine if you are eligible and if so, the last thing is to an official at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection gives last confirmation. Although there is a 99.9% chance that if you get ESTA authorization you will be accepted, we have to say that passengers were experiencing inconvenience. However, you have no reason to fear because, as we said, these are rare situations.
Also, we need to give you another tip, which is to print your ESTA authorization even though it isn’t required. Quite simply, it is possible that the clerk will ask you for it.