Visitors to USA need pre-clearance from January 12, 2009

Nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries (see list below) will still be eligible to travel without a visa but will have to obtain an approved travel authorization prior to their travel to the United States.



Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Noway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.

From 12 January 2009, the United States is implementing a new procedure for nationals holding passports from the above countries to travel on the Visa Waiver Program.

You no longer will be able to enter the country without first applying for authorisation through an online site called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The ESTA application can be found at

If you're traveling to the USA even before January 12, you should start to use the ESTA system starting immediately. As long as you have a Machine Readable Passport, you will be able to use ESTA (see for more details on Machine Readable Passports).

The online ESTA application must be completed at least 72 hours before arrival in the US and is quick and easy to complete. Once you have registered, your ESTA will remain active for either 2 years or until your passport expires, whichever happens first.

If you have any questions regarding the ESTA procedure or system, there is an explanation of how ESTA works here.

Yes, this USA pre-clearance makes it even more difficult to travel to America, which is probably the last thing the country needs right now. What do you think of this new hurdle?

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Related articles:

Frommer's top 12 destinations for 2009
US mayors welcome extension to the Visa Waiver Program

Comments are closed


Ordered newest to oldest.

man this people with crazy systemsss...makes us laugh....

Anonymous on 07 May, 2011

Not sure which browser you're using, but as it's a government website, the ESTA site may work better with Internet Explorer on a PC. I'm using Firefox on a PC, and that's fine though. If you're using a Mac, well, all bets are off unfortunately.

Never heard anyone not be able to use the ESTA website before though, so I'd say it's likely your setup.

Jack on 08 September, 2010

We'd just love to be able to access this site. We've been trying for two days to fill in the Visa Waiver form but the site is always down and unaccessible.

Carolyn on 08 September, 2010



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