The ESTA authorization for US travel: Tips to Successfully Get It

29 March, 2018

ESTA: what it is exactly

This is a system created especially for travellers who want to enter the US. It will tell you if you’re allowed to come to the US under the Visa Waiver Program. You’ll know this in advance and can save you lots of time and money. You need to have it, no matter the way you’re entering the US: by air or by sea.


Editorial credit: Tunatura /

These next tips are crucial, so pay attention to them

You need to have an approved ESTA form, even if you’re just passing through

Most of the people go to the US by plane or sea and they’re all required to have an ESTA form.  If you don’t have, they can and will not let you board the plane. Even worse, you can get sent home.

Some people may need a visa instead of an US ESTA application (those who want to stay longer than 90 days or those who are working.)

You can fill it online

This can be a problem for those who don’t have web access. They’ll need to ask someone else to get it for them. After you’ve done it, make sure you save the reference number. Even better, print the authorization page.

It’s not free

It will cost you a fee of $14 per application if the application is approved. If it’s rejected, it will only cost you $4. This means that you’ll have to pay $56 for a family of four members. Make sure you pay with the right card, so you won’t be overcharged with foreign exchange fees. You’ll need to have a MasterCard, Visa, Discover (JCB, Diners Club) or American Express to pay via credit card.

Don’t fall for fake sites

There are lots of sites which pretend to be the official ESTA site to get money from you. They’ll charge you for processing the application, and it’s more than $14. So be careful to those. Always go for the official ESTA site.

You need to apply again after 2 years

In case you have ESTA authorization, but you need a new one for different reasons, such as a lost passport, an expired passport or an expired existing authorization. You will need a new reference number.

It does not guarantee your entry

Just because you have it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re granted the entry in the United States of America. It just shows that you’re eligible for it. The Border Protection officer has the last word in this. He will decide whether you’ll get in or not, based on the criteria. But don’t worry, almost all the people are free to go with no problems.

Zhiqiang & Tingyi

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