ESTA explained

ESTA, or the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is a requirement from the United States government for travelers using the Visa Waiver Program. The ESTA system is a pre-authorization for travel to the U.S. and lets travelers fill out the I-94W form online before traveling to the U.S.A.

An ESTA clearance is a requirement for travel to the U.S.A. since 12 January 2009, and if a traveler doesn't have this done before arriving at the airport, check in will be denied by the airline. Once a traveler has received clearance, it can be re-used for up to 2 years.

Under the visa waiver program (VWP), the United States allows foreign nationals of the VWP Countries to stay for up to 90 days or less on business or for pleasure without obtaining a visa. The approval is good for multiple entries - meaning you may use it for more than one entry into the U.S.

The ESTA is most definitely not a visa, and is only usable by citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries. If you're not a citizen of one of these countries, you'll need to apply for a visa at your nearest American Embassy.

Applying for ESTA clearance

Visit the Department of Homeland Security website at esta.cbp.dhs.gov. You'll need your passport at hand, as well as your first flight details for the U.S. visit and an address where you'll be staying. A hotel address is sufficient.


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You should visit the site at least 72 hours before your flight. Once the form is filled in, you'll find out right away whether you've received authorization. Make sure to print out a copy of the confirmation, because you'll need it at the airport or other transportation.

From August 2010 there's a USD 14 ESTA fee to apply for the ESTA clearance.

Watch out for scams

There have been a number of website popping up that will assist you in applying for the ESTA, for a fee of course. This is at best wasted money, at worst an outright scam. None of these websites or companies are working together with the Department of Homeland Security so stay well away.

There's also a possibility that a website which isn't the official one, could collect your private information and be used to either steal your identity or break in to your home while away.

Where to apply

Apply only at the official ESTA site here:

esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

You should follow me on twitter here.

Last updated by Jack on 22 March, 2015 in Travel Tips.

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Comments

If I'm an American citizen (with US Passport only)living in Britain, do I need an ESTA clearence as well as my British husband? Thanks, AD

Anna David on 09 March, 2012

Hi Anna

No, you don't need ESTA clearance as a U.S. passport holder. However, your husband does unless he's got a permanent residence visa, or similar, as your spouse.

You never need ESTA to visit 'home' no matter how long you've been living abroad.

Jack on 10 March, 2012

If I have a dual nationality (Canadian and Spanish) and have a Spanish Passport (although living in Canada), do i need an Esta Clearance to travel to the U.S for a 1 week business trip?

thank you

Krystel on 13 March, 2012

Hi Krystel

I would get the ESTA clearance to be on the safe side. The Canadian passport may make you exempt, but best to be sure.

Jack on 13 March, 2012

I am flying from uk to Mexico for a holiday. However may need to fly back via new York then onwards to London. Would I need this?

Anonymous on 15 March, 2012

Yes, I think so. There are virtually no sterile flight transfer areas in U.S. international airports. This means you're highly likely to go through immigration on your way into the States both ways.

Jack on 15 March, 2012

I arrived to USA with Esta and stayed for 60 days. Then flew to Mexico.

My question is: Can I stay now when I'm back to USA for another 90 days? (Or

I just have 30 more days to use and that's all ).

Michal on 25 January, 2013

Hi Michal. The ESTA is multiple entry, though I believe you won't be able to spend more than 180 days in the U.S. in a single year without a full visa. However, I'm sure this is up to the discretion of the immigration officer. As I read it, you should be able to spend another 90 days.

Jack on 25 January, 2013

i got my visa from the USA embassy in UAE do i need a clearance to inter the states and how can i get it ?? i did come to the state a year ago and my visa was expired and couldn't get in and i went back to UAE without interning the state so now i got my visa and was wondering if i need clearance to depart from UAE airport ??

amal on 23 March, 2013

Since you have a current visa, I'm assuming you'll be OK. But, you also mention that you've been turned away previously so if you don't have a visa, you'll require one to enter the U.S.

I'm certain you can no longer use ESTA.

Jack on 23 March, 2013

Hi,

I travel from the UK under the ESTA/VWP to our owned home in Florida. Are you able to confirm categorically that the maximum stay is 180 days per year and is this a calender year or annual year (from Jan 1 to Dec 31? I understand the 90 day any one trip rule but even the US Embassy web site is silent on my inquiry. Is there a minimum time gap between visits under the ESTA/VWP? Many thanks.

Graham White on 24 April, 2013

Hi Graham

It's 180 days per 365 days rolling as far as I understand. It could be per calendar year (1 Jan through 31 Dec) but I don't think so. Don't take this as legal advice and also remember that the DHS officers at immigration can reject you for quite a number of reasons.

No minimum gap between visits, you can come in and out every other day if you'd like. Well, technically, but even with ESTA I'm sure the immigration officer would eventually object.

I've crossed the border up to 4 times in a month, so that's certainly fine.

Jack on 24 April, 2013

Hello there i am dual nationality live and born in great britain however have a spanish passport as the english one is to expensive! When filling out the esta for passport issueing country (country of citizenship i am unsure what to put as it is a spanish passport however i got my passport in the spanish embassy in london?? If you could help me out it would be much apprciated? Many thanks john

John on 14 May, 2013

Hi John

Travel on your Spanish passport, as the passport details need to match the ESTA application. Doesn't matter where it was issued.

Jack on 16 May, 2013

Hi, I am an australian citizen travelling on an australian passport will spend two weeks in canada before flying on to europe. I will visit niagara falls then cross over via land into buffalo the us border for a short visit 3 or 4 days. My question is do I need to complete an ESTA form to cross into the US

Marcel on 11 May, 2014

Yes, you will absolutely need preclearance by doing the ESTA application online.

You cannot, at least technically, fill in the form at the border anymore and if you try without applying online, your chances of being turned back are pretty great.

Jack on 11 May, 2014

Maybe somebody can help me. I travel frequently to the United States. My current esta is good until the 21st of december. I am flying the 19th to the United States and staying there for 3 weeks. Do I have to apply for a new one or does the esta have to be valid for your whole stay in the United States?

Daniel on 30 November, 2014

As per this page:

"If your ESTA expires while in the US it will not affect your departure."

Jack on 02 December, 2014

Hi I am trying to update my ESTA details, I have updated my location details hotel etc but it will not give me the option to update flight details, flight number and where I am flying from, my visa is valid until November 2015

Rachael

rachael on 08 December, 2014

Don't worry about the flight details. It's multiple entry, and they don't actually care about them: Ditto with the hotel details in reality.

Jack on 08 December, 2014

Can anyone help please, I think I may be abit thick I am a uk citizen with a uk passport, however, I am and have been resident in Canary islands (spain) for the last 7 years. on the form it asks about any other citizenship, am I right in assuming I have to put spain and repeat my English passport number (as it asks for number)?

Irene Wadsworth on 15 December, 2014

Hi Irene,

You're a British citizen, so that's what you put. Residency isn't the same and does not matter in any case for this (unless you've also taken up Spanish citizenship).

So, British & the UK passport number is what you use.

Jack on 15 December, 2014

Hi there,

We are travelling to the US in a few months, my question is;

My fiance is a US/Aus (dual) citizen travelling on an Australian passport, does he need to apply for ESTA?

Thanks.

Anonymous on 02 January, 2015

Thanks for asking.

No, she won't need an ESTA as she's a US citizen. I strongly recommend that she travel on her US passport to USA per Homeland Security rules.

If she MUST travel on her Australian passport, then the ESTA seems to be required.

Jack on 02 January, 2015

Hi

I'm due to fly to New York on Monday, I can't seem to update my phone number. Will this be a problem?

David

David on 08 January, 2015

Hi David,

No, I wouldn't think so.

As it's a multi-year, multi-entry authorization it would seem strange. If immigration wants your number, I'm sure they'd ask at passport control as well.

That being said, there are no guarantees. I would be surprised if you experienced any issues with your ESTA or U.S. border control because of it.

Jack on 09 January, 2015

Hi, I am a Swedish citizen, currently living in the UK. In my ESTA application my country of residence is currently Sweden, as that was approved a year ago and I have been living in the UK for only six months. Do I need to update this, and is it possible to update only "country currently residing in" without changing citizenship?

Thanks!

Sophie on 18 January, 2015

If you've only been in the UK for six months, you're probably not yet 'ordinarily resident' legally. No urgency to change if you're travelling soon.

Yes, once you consider yourself living in the UK on a more or less permanent basis, you can update 'country currently residing in'. It is not related to citizenship, just residence.

Jack on 18 January, 2015

Hello , I'm dual citizen a Gambian/ British citizen. I used to travelled to US from 2011 till date to visit my newly wedded wife an American citizen . Now i want to join her in US . I want to travel in few months time and for the first time am travelling with my British passport , do I need esta visa and or dose she have to apply for me green card or residence while am in the US ,hence she is my wife or can I just buy air ticket and travel as I used to do with my Gambian passport in which I have 5 years visa still valid.

thanks

thanks

Thank you so much

Pierre Tallon on 27 February, 2015

I can't say exactly.

If you're looking to immigrate / move to the US now you're married to a US citizen, your wife will need to apply for a green card.

Else, you should probably keep travelling on your Gambian passport with the visa.

In either case, you should speak with the US Embassy or Consulate nearest where you live now, as this is complicated.

Jack on 27 February, 2015

My wife and I are hoping to do a 2.5months USA trip on an ESTA - with a 2 week break back home in the UK- then return to the USA on ESTA for a further 2.5months.

I will be on business (servicing a USA client to my own UK company). My wife will not work during our time in the USA as she intends to relax/sight see.

My question is would we be refused entry on our return? Is there a return timing window we must adhere to? Any help would be greatly received.

Paul on 10 March, 2015

Hi Paul

The maximum you can do is 180 days in a year on an ESTA, so on that you'd be OK.

You should be fine doing this, however, U.S. immigration can be unpredictable at times and there's always a risk of being turned away at the border.

Make sure you have relevant papers in order, and if being denied entry on the return would be a serious problem due to delays caused, it may well be worth applying for a full visa rather than relying on ESTA.

Jack on 11 March, 2015

I have Indian nationality but am a permanent resident of Spain (resident card). Am I eligible for ESTA to travel to USA?

Sona on 13 April, 2015

Hi Sona. Unfortunately you would need a visa, as it's related to the passport you're travelling on. Which would be your Indian citizenship.

Jack on 14 April, 2015

Hi sorry feeling a bit dumb here. I am going for one month to see my relative in texas. I filled in my esta as a british citizen which i am, but i now live in italy i am automatically a dual citizen there as my father is italian do I need to tick that box? My passport is British and my address is Italian the address seems to be highlighted in yellow and i noticed is changed my issue of passport place to Italy and my citizenship to italy now I am confused. It asks for the passport number of the other country of which you are a citizen and I just re-entered my british passport number as i don't have an italian passport..being in the EU i haven't bothered yet. anyway my session timed out so haven't filled it out again. Need help thanks!

Luisa on 05 July, 2015

Fill in the information for the passport you're using to travel, including actual place of issue as stated in your British passport. Use the Italian address if that's your normal residence. You don't need to mention the dual citizenship as the ESTA rules are the same in any case. Keep it simple, but accurate.

Jack on 05 July, 2015

Great thanks wow fast response!

luisa on 05 July, 2015

Hi, my situation is kind of weird, I have dual nationalities, TWN and UK. I'm traveling to the States for a 3 week vacation. The issue is:

1. I overstayed my visa on my old UK passport over 20 years ago as a kid. (Family health issue.)

2. My current UK passport with a different number is expired and they require that I enter it anyways as I have dual nationalities.

I'm wondering if I should end the "Citizen of another country?" part as no or should I enter the info?

What are the chances that they won't let me through due to overstayed visa? Would they be able to cross match my Taiwanese passport to my old/new UK passport and deny entry that way? (English name is registered on the Taiwanese passport as a legal alias)

Thank you for any advice you can give!

Steve on 06 July, 2015

A follow up question:

I'll be traveling on my TWN passport, would I need to bring my expired UK passport as well?

Thanks again!

Steve on 06 July, 2015

@Steve: In practice, though this may be a technical breach, I'd just use the Taiwan passport & citizenship details. There is no reason to bring an expired passport then.

The overstay may or may not be an issue as so long ago, and you were a minor. I am not a lawyer, but as long as the online ESTA application goes through, I'd think the immigrations officer would disregard it entirely. Note that they have the power to turn you away for any reason, even if that reason is disliking your t-shirt color...

Good travels!

Jack on 06 July, 2015

I am an Australian Citizen at present in the Philippines on an extended tourist visa. I will be marrying a Filipina and we are planning a 3-week vacation to visit my sister in USA at Christmas this year.

I have a current ESTA, expiring August 2016. Will my marital state and my ESTA add weight to my wife's US visa application?

She fulfills the criteria already, such as owning freehold properties, regular employment, a bank account with funds and can get a letter from her employer, so I wonder if being married to me, an ESTA holder will be of benefit?

Thank you for any advice.

Fred Boulton on 21 July, 2015

@Fred Boulton

Frankly, I doubt the ESTA permit (which is simply a tourist-visa equivalent for certain countries) carries any weight what-so-ever.

Her marriage to you, and your respective connections to other countries than the U.S. should be more meaningful. In her case, property holdings and a steady job, and in yours the Australian citizenship (supporting factor only).

She will need to get a normal tourist visa, though the specific circumstances, and it effectively being a honeymoon trip, should make the visa straightforward.

Caveat: I'm not a lawyer, and immigration/visa decisions can at times be perplexing.

If in serious doubt, contact a specialist lawyer on this issue, and at the very least don't book travel until you have a visa arranged for your wife to be.

Last but not least: Congratulations!

Jack on 21 July, 2015

@Jack

Thank you very much for the information!

I may also ask my sister in USA( a longtime citizen) to write a letter of sponsorship/guarantee for my wife. Perhaps that may add some weight. I get the feeling that the USA(like most countries, is quite wary of tourists trying to settle illegally, so it seems if I/we can allay those fears in our case then it should make things easier.

Thanks also for the congratulations!

Fred Boulton on 21 July, 2015

hello, I have an Italian passport and from last october i'm working and living in Switzerland. In my ESTA application my country of residence is currently Italy, as i n my passport and ID document. Do I need to update the address?

Annapaola on 06 August, 2015

@Annapaola

You should be OK using the Italian address as long as you have some connection to it, like it's a family home.

Jack on 10 August, 2015

Hi all. Hopefully some of you might have advise for me? I am invited to work on a friends farm from April to October next year in upstate New York. I want to book a return flight in back to Germany to participate in my brothers wedding ceremony and planned to stay two weeks in Germany before returning to the US. Fortunately the "break" in my home country (@Paul had a similar issue) is planned before a 90 days stay in the US. My question is what type of visa I would need? Should I make an appointment in the embassy and talk about my plans with an officer there? Would be nice if someone could help me out :)

Have a nice day!

Max

Max on 17 August, 2015

@Max

Sorry the reply is a little delayed.

I think you may need to chat to a specialist, however. I'm uncertain whether travelling on an ESTA is the right choice here.

In general, you can't spend more than 180 days in the USA without a visa allowing it in any rolling year. Seems like you're coming up against that limit for the overall stay. Also, you're intending to work, possibly informally (which you can't get a visa for of course), so you'd require a visa. That means your friend would need to sponsor you. If you don't get a visa, you'd be best off ensuring the working part isn't public knowledge, you don't want a visa violation issue with U.S. immigration.

The break to Germany should, if you choose to use ESTA, give you another 90 day period on your return from Germany. However, the officer processing you at the border may give you a shorter period as it's your second visit in succession, possibly just 30 or 60 days.

If you're flexible, that may be OK. If not, get a visa.

There are visas for temporary agricultural workers called the H-2A visa, which requires Department of Agriculture approval and has a multi-step process plus a fee. If using this, you also need to look up the tax treatment of your wages, and scrupulously pay them so your friend doesn't get in trouble with IRS.

Also, the visa approval can take some time, though once approved, the visa is valid for a year.

In summary: You could travel on ESTA, but it's not legal for your purpose, and I wouldn't recommend it.

Jack on 19 August, 2015

HI I am an Australian who will be travelling to Canada Toronto and then spending 4 days in New York and heading back into Canada before heading home to Australia. I already have a valid ESTA and Australian passport. Do I need another for of VISA to enter Canada or does my valid ESTA cover me for this?

Thank you in advance,

Michaela

Michaela on 17 October, 2015

Hi Michaela

So, I took a look at the Canadian site for eTA (electronic Travel Authorization) to check on your requirements as an Australian. Currently, you don't need an authorization, but I noted this:

"Starting March 15, 2016, you need an eTA to visit or transit Canada by air. You can apply now for an eTA.

If you travel by land or sea, you will not need an eTA when you enter Canada. However, you must travel with proper identification."

Specifically responding to your query about the ESTA, this will not cover you, as ESTA is an American travel authorization.

Good news is that as an Australian, you currently don't need one at all for Canada.

Jack on 18 October, 2015

Hi, my parents are traveling to Russia in a couple of days and we are getting notices via email that they need to complete this ESTA application. Is that true?

Lala on 25 October, 2015

Great thank you so much Jack :)

Michaela on 25 October, 2015

@Lala

If your parents are connecting via a U.S. airport, yes they'll need an ESTA. As most American airports don't have an airside transfer area for international connections, they'll need to pass through immigration and customs to get that connecting flight.

It's only $14 per person, thankfully, and takes 5 minutes to do online via one of the links in the above article.

Jack on 28 October, 2015

Hello, US citizen here who was planning on traveling with spouse to the US for a trip to visit family over Christmas. My spouse is a Swedish citizen who has entered the US twice without any issues (ESTA pre-clearance granted) but when he applied for a trip over Christmas this year he was denied... twice (he re-applied just to be sure). Any clue about why he would suddenly be denied when everything in the application looked OK and he has no record, never overstayed, has a job/apartment/life in Sweden, never had any issues whatsoever...? We are very confused and it's really a shame he now has to apply for a B2 visa at the consulate as we're not sure he can get one in time.

Lucy on 07 November, 2015

Well, we found out what the issue was by calling the ESTA hotline - his passport had been reported as missing or stolen so it was flagged by Interpol. Hopefully a new passport will solve the issue.

Lucy on 09 November, 2015

Hi there. I am a UK citizen with a UK passport thinking to be a resident of Brazil. If I do, can I still enter the USA with ESTA or will I like all Brazilians need a Visa. I do not and will not have a Brazilian passport. Thanks

Jo on 12 November, 2015

@Lucy

Glad you found out what was going on, I wouldn't have guessed that one! Definitely proof the hotline works, and I need to add that tip to the article as well.

He should be able to get a new passport for Xmas, so your travels should be all good now.

Sorry for slow reply, as been travelling myself.

Jack on 16 November, 2015

@Jo

ESTA works on your citizenship / passport used, so as you're not a Brazilian citizen, you're/should be fine to use ESTA pre-clearance.

Jack on 16 November, 2015

My son is a US citizen and play professional ball in Kosovo. He planning a trip home for Christmas . Does he need a ESTA?

Renee T on 10 December, 2015

No, U.S. citizens do not require a visa as they have a right to enter the country, so a visa exemption isn't needed.

Jack on 13 December, 2015

Hi. I am a UK citizen with an ESTA valid until August 2016. I'm planning to visit my daughter in April. She is in California on a student visa. I have travelled to Iraq on business for an oil company several times since 2011. Under the new rules does that invalidate my existing ESTA or would the new rules only apply for new applications? In addition I have a very old (1980s) indefinite multi entry US visa in an old passport. As it is 'indefinite' is it still valid. Thank you.

William on 23 December, 2015

Hi William. In your case, I would talk to the US Embassy.

The indefinite visa may be valid, or it may be recalled.

For the ESTA, I'm not sure as haven't looked over the new rules properly yet.

Best of luck, US visa rules are complicated at best.

Jack on 25 December, 2015

HELLO URGENT HELP NEEDED

I AM A BELGIAN CITIZEN BORN IN THE US

I HAVE NOT TRAVELED WITH MY US PASSPORT SINCE THE 90S AND WAS IN THE US WITH MY BELGIAN PASSPORT IN THE EARLY 2000.

I DO NOT HAVE A VALID US PASSPORT ANYMORE AND HAVE TO TRAVEL TO THE US ON JAN2 WITH MY BELGIAN PASSPORT. AM I ALLOWED TO?

WHAT DO I DECLARE IN THE ESTA FORM ?

DUAL NATIONALITY?

GREG REMY on 28 December, 2015

You'll be travelling on your Belgian passport, and you should probably bring your expired US passport with you. State dual citizenship on your ESTA application.

From my understanding you should travel on your US passport there, but as expired you'll need to use your Belgian one.

Hopefully the ESTA application will come through OK, else you'll need to speak to your local US Embassy immediately, so I'd do the application today.

Jack on 29 December, 2015

Good evening,

I have applied for my esta visa clearance which was approved. I took a photo shot of the visa esta on my phone to be printed, but my phone drop and broke so access to my my information. I will be travelling from London UK.

If I am not able to get back the details, will I have any problem on entry to the US? Or can you please send me an email of my esta visa clearance.

Kind Regards

Helen Carr.

Helen Carr on 03 January, 2016

Hi Helen

This site doesn't help administer anything about ESTA, it's for information only.

Having said that, I've never been asked for the printout. Immigration in the US will have a record against your passport with your approved ESTA.

It should also be emailed to you, and the details in the email can be used to get a new printout done.

In any case, go ahead and travel, you won't have any issues due to no print out.

Jack on 11 January, 2016

Dear Jack, help needed. My two sons were born in the US. I, the father, and my wife, the mother, are citizen of a VWP country. We are not US citizens. We got their US passport when they were under 1 year old to came back to our VWP country and have lived there since 5 years. We are going to Orlando in a couple of weeks for vacations. Their US passports are now expired and since the trip is around the corner, there is no enough time to get a US passport renewal for them. So, we would like them to enter and exit the US using their valid VWP country passport. Filling out the ESTA form, we found a question about dual nationality. If we put YES, we will need to state that they are US citizen. Will this action automatically reject their ESTA application? Or should we simply put NO to the second citizenship? Thanks in advance.

Alejandro on 12 January, 2016

Hi Alejandro.

In your case, you should phone the local US Embassy and ask advice.

If that's impossible (and this is definitely a case of 'I am not a lawyer'), fill in the ESTA with the dual citizenship, and the US citizenship. Then use the valid passports for details.

Should you do this, I would strongly advice to bring the expired US passports with you to US immigrations, and be prepared for delays as you may need to explain the situation in detail.

Good luck.

Jack on 13 January, 2016

Hello,

I got a French citizenship and passport and an Israeli one as well.

I used to enter USA with the French passport using the ETSA visa.

I got divorced and remarried but didn't changed yet the name on my French passport so it's doesn't fits my Israeli family name.

noted that my old family name appears on both (I add my husband name).

Can this cause me problems when trying to enter United states?? I want to travel there with my husband and son in a few months.

I will appreciate the help. Im afraid to get the border and get a denial of entering.

Thanks :)

Eleanor M on 25 January, 2016

Hi Eleanor.

Each member of the party, i.e. you, your new husband, and your son, will need their own passport.

So the details just need to be accurate for your own travel documents.

As you've previously entered on your French passport (and I'm assuming this is the same passport number), you may still have a valid ESTA as it is for two years.

Else, you can get a new one with the same passport without issues.

And as a bonus, as you've entered with the passport before, you can even use the electronic passport control, if your arrival airport has them.

Jack on 26 January, 2016

Hi, I'm applying for ESTA 'cause I will be travelling through the States in 2 weeks. I am in Italian citizen but I'm currently living in The Netherlands, even though I'm not registered into the Registry of Italians Resident Abroad (A.I.R.E.) so it's kind of "not official" (of course I'm staying in NL legally with all permissions and such). Now which address should I fill in my ESTA application, the italian or the dutch one? My passport is italian and it has no address in it, it only states that my residence is in Napoli - Italy.

I'm confused, could you help? Thanks.

Sara on 27 January, 2016

Hi Sara

You simply give the Italian passport details, and your current address in NL.

You living in The Netherlands as a European citizen has no relevance, it's the passport that affects your ESTA eligibility.

Have a great trip

Jack on 27 January, 2016

Hello, I'm also on the confused side! My passport address and my actual address are different (however still within the same country) - passport states my permanent residence. I filled in the ESTA form a few days ago and now it hit me - the address from my passport and the address I've put in the "Your contact details" don't match. I'm scared now that I won't be able to enter the country because of that. Could you clarify this, please? Thank you!

Polona on 01 February, 2016

You'll be fine, this happens all the time. As long as the passport is valid and your ESTA came back as approved, you'll be allowed to enter.

Border security agents know that people move homes after all.

Jack on 03 February, 2016

I am married to a lovely American lady for just over 2 years but I am a UK Citizen with UK passport. Although now past the state pension age I still work as consultant in my own business. I visit my wife about 3 times a year about a month or 6 weeks at a time. She comes to the UK about twice a year for a month or six weeks at a time. Until she reaches retirement age I do not intend to get a green card as I will not be permanently staying in US so I come and go on an ESTA. Although I have an vague e-mail from the US Embassy in London I am still very nervous about it all. Your opinion would be appreciated

Richard Culverhouse on 17 February, 2016

Hi Richard. As long as you don't have residency (Green Card or White Card, i.e. long term visa) you're exposed to the 180 days maximum in 365 days rule. So, can't be in the country more than 6 months total per year.

Apart from that, using ESTA should be perfectly fine.

If I was you, I'd bring a copy of your marriage certificate along in case immigration starts asking more challenging questions. Maybe also a letter from your wife, with her confirming that you're still working and won't seek to permanently reside in the US until you retire in practice.

It may also in that case be useful to have a letter/reference from a trusted client regarding your work for them.

But this is all 'belts-and-braces' stuff, you're unlikely to come across any real issues apart from some curious/probing questions about your relationship.

Jack on 22 February, 2016

Hi, my daughter is travelling to the states with my wife. She is 11 years of age and has a dual citizenship: Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina. She has never been issued with the Bosnian passport. My wife did not enter on the ESTA form that the daughter has Bosnian citizenship. Should this cause any problems? It is not possible to go back and change this on the ESTA form. Please advise.

Sinisa on 02 March, 2016

Hi Sinisa. I think it's the citizenship that matters, not whether a passport has been issued.

It's very unlikely to be an issue, given that she's a minor and has Irish citizenship.

I would be prepared to have a few questions asked at the border entry desk, and it might be good to include some documents such as recent grades from the school in Ireland, and others that would show her living there full time.

Jack on 03 March, 2016

I got approved ESTA FOR FLORIDA as a couple but im going to new york in April by my self do i have to get a new ESTA

Graham Williams on 21 March, 2016

The ESTA is individual in all cases, and it's multiple entry, so you're OK as long as it's less than 2 years old.

Jack on 28 March, 2016

Im a filipino working in italia and not an italian citizen but only the so called pernesso d sogiorno can i apply this ESTA for united states

Corazon teppang on 28 April, 2016

I am a Brazilian citizen ( I have a Brazilian passport) and i also have a green card , i am traveling to the UK and i was wondering if i need to apply for ESTA? just making sure

sarah on 28 April, 2016

@Corazon, Philippine natural-born citizens can't use ESTA. So unfortunately you need to apply for a U.S. visa at your nearest United States embassy or consulate.

Jack on 02 May, 2016

@Sarah, ESTA does not apply to the United Kingdom, you do however need a British visa as a Brazilian citizen. See here for details.

Jack on 02 May, 2016

Hello ! My husband and I are travelling to New York in October from Ireland , I have a dual citizenship, I was born in America, does my husband still have to fill out the ESTA , I'm sure he does but wasn't sure , when my mother married my father , who was a us citizen she got a green card (many many years ago!!) thanks for your advice

Mary, May 2016

Mary on 14 May, 2016

Hi me and my daughter wants to travel u.s this summer we have british passports which says british citizenship but i was born in pakistan so can i apply esta or i need visa also they ask in application that if u r from another country do you have any passports and the passport number i had a pakistani passports its about 10 years ago i submitt in homeoffice to get assylum i dont have any information of that what should i write then please help

Asma on 16 May, 2016

@Asma

Since you don't have any other passport, just add in the British one. You'll need to answer everything else, which means entering country of birth as Pakistan.

You should have the passport information for Pakistan in your asylum papers, but if not you'll have to leave this empty.

There's a huge caveat in that I'm not an immigration lawyer, but you may be OK not entering the second passport information.

A better idea may be to phone the US Embassy and ask what you should be doing here?

Jack on 16 May, 2016

Hi Jack:

My wife is a Swedish citizen with an expired Green Card and is scheduled to come to the US in 3 weeks. She is living and raising our kids in Sweden but spends every summer in the US during school break. Can she apply for an ESTA and travel on her Swedish passport or will DHS deny her travel ? I have spoken to USCIS who tell us to apply for a new I90 and travel anyway but CBP tell us they would most likely stop her at the airport. We are prepared to turn in the green card with the I407 abandonment form or renew with I90 (But not sure they would approve it) we just need to get her to the US without much hassle as she will be traveling with our 2 young children.

Thanks

Rob on 13 June, 2016

Hi Rob

Seems you've left this massively late unfortunately. It would seem that you basically can only take your chances following USCIS' recommendation.

Good luck

Jack on 16 June, 2016

Hi, I have Irish citizenship and British citizenship. I currently have an Irish passport but in the past had a UK one. When filling in the form I can't give my passport number from the UK as I no longer have it (too many house moves!) - what do I put in the box? Also it then asks if you are now a citizen or have been of any other country? Do I put yes because I am a citizen of the UK through birth? Thank you!

Linda on 07 July, 2016

Hello

I have dual British/South African citizenship with two valid passports. I now live in South Africa. Is this a problem when applying to Esta?

Christine on 24 July, 2016

Hello Christine

Should have no issues at all, just list both in the application.

Jack on 25 July, 2016

Hi there

I have an ESTA which expires on July 31st and I arrive in the US at 645am on July 30th. I've called the ESTA desk in washington and emailed, and have been told I will have no issues- my ESTA is valid for entry even though it expires the day after I arrive. As long as it's valid the day you travel. But what do you think - will immigration/customs question me at the border if my ESTA expires the next day? Just confused about what I should do here, but have an email and a phone call confirming I will be ok? Just worried about what happens on the border though...

thanks!

amy

amy on 25 July, 2016

Thank you Jack

Christine on 26 July, 2016

Hi Amy

As you have an email advising your current ESTA will be valid, go ahead and print that to bring together with your other travel documents. Just in case you get any questions.

But as advised, you're fine.

Jack on 26 July, 2016

Thanks for getting back to me.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the dual citizenship question - my boyfriend has an Aus passport but no longer has or knows his UK passport details. In the ESTA application it says if you don't know your other passport details to type UNKNOWN for the number and 0000 for the expiry date & the ESTA is approved, but I'm not sure what this means when you land and go through immigration? Can you enter like normal or do they quiz you and ask for more info/details when you go through? Just worried because we don't know them? haha I hate US immigration, so co confusing and scary. thanks again...

Amy on 26 July, 2016

Hi again Amy

As the ESTA application was approved, that should be it. However, immigration officers have the right to, and sometimes do, quiz visitors further. If so, just say what the situation is, that he no longer has a UK passport or its details, but remains a UK citizen.

He might get asked when he last had a the UK passport and such.

As long as you're not otherwise suspicious (weird travel patterns etc) I don't think it'll be an issue.

Having said that, the officers also have the right to deny entry on almost any ground, and people have been turned back for (at least what they've told me) odd reasons. That is rare, and it's not in their interest to do so!

Visitors mean tourist spending and business deals after all.

Jack on 28 July, 2016

hi my wife who was born in italy came to live in the uk in 1961 ,she has an italian passport,she has worked here all her life and is married since 1982 to a uk citizen ,she`s going to visit her niece in america for 2 weeks and is not sure wheher she is a british citizen?national or what for her esta application,can anyone help please,

thanks dave

david on 31 July, 2016

Hi Dave

Unless she has applied for British Citizenship and received it, she's solely an Italian citizen from what you're saying. She does have permanent residency in the UK though, but not at all the same thing.

I.e. for ESTA, she's living in the UK, and is an Italian citizen.

Jack on 01 August, 2016

I am from sweden and only have my swedish passport and my american green card, flying to sedan to visit family, do i need to apply for ESTA ?

Arazo on 18 August, 2016

Hello, I am about to travel from Japan on a Japanese passport, but I still have a British one in the UK, which I haven't yet renounced. When I fill out my second passport as British on the ESTA form, will this cause problems returning to Japan?

Yamada on 13 September, 2016

I don't think it's relevant, as ESTA is a US program, not British or Japanese.

There might be some information sharing between the US and Japanese intelligence services, and if Japan doesn't allow dual citizenship, there'd be a slight chance it might get picked up that you're keeping the British one.

However, that's entirely outside the scope of the article (or anything I know about really).

If this is a serious concern, it would be best for you to discuss the issue with a Japanese immigration attorney.

Best regards

Jack on 14 September, 2016

@Sarah, ESTA does not apply to the United Kingdom, you do however need a British visa as a Brazilian citizen. See here for details.

Jack on 02 May, 2016

@ Jack: You're wrong, no visa needed for Brazilians for tourism in UK

Anonymous on 19 September, 2016

@Anonymous

That's good news then.

Jack on 23 September, 2016

Hi, I have Irish citizenship and British citizenship. I have a Irish passport now but i used it have a British passport before When filling in the form It asks if you are now a citizen or have been of any other country? Do I put yes because I am a citizen of the UK through birth? Thank you

Aaron Hynes on 29 September, 2016

@Aaron

Correct, put both on the application.

Jack on 04 October, 2016

Hi, i have an Irish passport, i am from Northern Ireland so have British and Irish citizenship, i have had a British passport in the past but it is expired and i can no longer remember the number, what do i put in the passport number box?

emer on 19 October, 2016

Hi Emer

In your situation, the following applies (quoted from the ESTA site):

"If you have any additional passports, please enter the most recent passport information, even if that passport is expired. If you are a dual citizen but do not have a passport from another country, select the country from the drop down list and do not enter anything in the Passport Number field."

Hope that helps

Jack on 23 October, 2016

With regards to not knowing my old passport numberunder Dual Citizenship, the online ESTA form does not allow me to leave the entry blank (as you stated above on relating "Emer"s reply. I read you should just put 'UNKNOWN' What are your thoughts. Thanks

Mark on 01 December, 2016

Hi Mark. If the form will take 'UNKNOWN', I'd go with that. Functionally, it's the same in that there's no number supplied for the old passport.

Jack on 01 December, 2016

I am a US citizen with a US passport and in June, I am flying to Spain, with a layover in Lisbon, for one week. I am flying with TAP Portugal and it says to check the box if "I am aware of the obligation to require an electronic authorization The link opens in a new Window to travel to the United States of America, under the Visa Waiver Program." Do I need an ESTA to fly there? Do I need an ESTA for my flight back to the US?

Parris on 03 December, 2016

Hi Parris.

As a US citizen travelling on a US passport, ESTA does not at all apply to you.

ESTA is a program only for visitors/citizens from certain countries (see list in the article above) who don't need a full visitors' visa to the United States of America.

For visiting Portugal, NO VISA IS NECESSARY if you are a U.S. citizen and will be traveling to Portugal for up to 90 days. However, you will need a valid U.S. passport for at least 6 months from the date of planned return or other travel document recognized by member States of the Schengen Agreement.

Jack on 06 December, 2016

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