What is an ESTA?

What is an ESTA?

The ESTA is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. A system that enables Visa Waiver Program travelers to enter the USA visa-free. No need to apply for a USA Visa. No need to visit the US Embassy and have to deal with the long wait times. No need to follow-up with the American Embassy on how the status of your US Visa for Non-Immigrants. All you have to do is apply online and follow these steps:

1) Apply Online by Filling out an ESTA Application

Enter all required information. You will be asked to: provide information from your passport; to enter your travel arrangements; and to answer seven security questions. Each member of your party must have an approved travel authorization or a visa, regardless of age, prior to traveling to the United States.

2) Submit the ESTA Application

Review your answers for accuracy. To make corrections, return to the application by selecting the Previous button.

3) Record you Application Number

After you submit your application, the system will provide you with an application number. Record this application number for your records. If you want to check the status or to update your application, you will be asked to provide your application number, passport number, and date of birth. If you do not record you application number, you will be required to provide you First Name, Last Name, and Passport Issuing Country instead.

4) Make a Payment

After filling out your credit card and submitting it, your ESTA Application is being processed by CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection). At this point no changes can be made. Any errors on your authorization after payment will require you to reapply for a new ESTA in order to replace the one with errors.

5) View Your Application Status

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:


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 choose Retrieve Previously-Submitted Authorization to Travel to the United States for One or More Persons. Your application number, passport number, and birth date will be required to check the status of your application.


A Travel Authorization is the document you receive after your ESTA Application is processed. It is often referred to as an ESTA or an ESTA Travel Authorization.