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A guide to ESTA for travel to America

Did you know that if you’re visiting America, you can travel with an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) rather than a visa? Here’s a quick and easy guide to all things ESTA travel.  

Patrick Ikhena From the Travel team
minute read

How do I get an ESTA?

To apply for an ESTA, all you need to do is visit the official ESTA application page, where you’ll be asked a few questions. Avoid third party sites, as they’re likely to charge you an extra fee to process your application – it’s not necessary and you don't want to be paying any more than you need to.

To apply you need to have:

  • a valid credit card ready to pay for your application (MasterCard, VISA, American Express, or Discover – including JCB and Diners Club)
  • your contact information
  • your most recent employment information

You won’t need to print out your ESTA to show at border control, but we do recommend you keep a copy for your records, just in case.   

How do I get an ESTA?

How long does it take to get an ESTA?

You must apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before you leave for the US.

Once you’ve filled out the online application, you could be told within seconds whether your ESTA application has been accepted.

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How much is an ESTA visa?

One application for an ESTA will cost you only $14 (and just $4 if you’re rejected).  

How much is an ESTA visa?

How long will my ESTA last?

Once you’ve successfully applied for an ESTA, it will be valid for up to two years, or until your passport expires. You can also visit America multiple times within those two years, as long as your stay is less than 90 days per trip.

Why could my ESTA application be declined?

There are various reasons why your application could be declined, but these are the most common:

  • you stayed for longer in the USA than was authorised on a past visit
  • in the past you’ve claimed to be a visitor in the USA, but took part in unauthorised work
  • you’ve been denied entry into the USA in the past
  • you’ve previously answered a Visa Waiver Program eligibility question incorrectly
  • the passport you’re using has been reported lost or stolen.

So in summary: ESTA? Check. American dollars? Check. Travel insurance Check. You’re good to go.

Why could my ESTA application be declined?

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