ESTA Frequently Asked Questions

In order to provide you with as much information as possible, we have grouped together the main questions we are frequently asked. Here are the questions and answers to know everything about the ESTA application.

What is an ESTA?

ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This is a computerized procedure set up by the U.S. government. It was created to facilitate the administrative procedures for people wishing to travel to the United States without having to apply for a visa.

Who should apply for ESTA?

An ESTA is mandatory for all persons wishing to travel to the USA. No matter the age or the means of transportation, travel by plane or boat. It is imperative that each traveler has their own authorization.

Once the ESTA is accepted, can we enter the United States directly?

The ESTA is only an authorization to travel to the United States to present yourself at its borders. It does not ensure that you are allowed to enter. This decision is made by U.S. Immigration officials who will check you once you arrive and reserve the right to deny you entry.

Is the ESTA authorization a visa?

No, the ESTA is not a visa. The two authorizations are different:

How long is an ESTA valid?

The ESTA is valid for 2 years from the date of issue. It is important not to confuse these 2 years of validity with the authorized stay in the territory of 90 days maximum. Exceeding the authorized length of stay will cause your ESTA to expire. The ESTA authorization also expires on the expiration date of the passport used to apply for ESTA.

When should I apply for an ESTA?

The deadline to apply for ESTA is 72 hours before departure. This is the maximum amount of time the US administration has given itself to respond. However, it is advisable to take the necessary steps as soon as possible to anticipate a possible negative response. Once the ESTA is granted, it is easier to focus on the overall organization of the trip.

Do I have to justify the reason for my trip to obtain the ESTA?

When filling out the ESTA application form, there are some fields that need to be filled out regarding the reasons for travel. But it is not mandatory to fill them in or to be precise. Indeed, since the ESTA can be requested well before you have organized your stay, it is sometimes simply not possible to give all the details. However, it is necessary to notify whether it is tourism or business.

Do I need an ESTA authorization to transit the USA?

If you are transiting through an airport located in the United States, it is mandatory to obtain an ESTA transit authorization. You will have to specify on the application form that your passage through the USA is a simple stopover on American territory.

What is the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

The Visa Waiver Program is a program that the U.S. authorities have decided to implement in order to simplify the travel requirements for the nationals of participating countries. It allows nationals of these countries to do without a visa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

Which countries are part of the VWP?

The following countries are part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. These countries work together with the USA to make it easier for their citizens to obtain an ESTA:

BruneiChileSouth KoreaDenmarkSpain
monacoNorwayNew ZealandPortugalCzech republic
SwedenSwissTaiwan Poland Croatia
Israel (2023)
List of US VWP member countries

Do I have to reapply for ESTA if my authorization expired during my stay?

Since the ESTA authorization is a formality to be carried out in order to enter the country, it is not necessary that it is still valid at the time of departure. No problem then that it expires once you are already on site. However, be careful not to exceed the maximum stay of 90 days.

Do I need to print the ESTA?

Normally, you are not required to have printed your ESTA. As the entire procedure is computerized, airlines and authorities will be able to access the files in due course. However, we recommend that you print the authorization. This costs nothing and allows you to have proof in case of unforeseen events.

What are the requirements for obtaining an ESTA?

The conditions for receiving ESTA authorization are as follows:

Is the ESTA application free?

The cost of the ESTA is a minimum of $21 in mandatory taxes to be paid directly through the Internet to submit an ESTA application.

What should I do if my ESTA is refused?

If your ESTA is denied, you must contact the U.S. Embassy to initiate the process of obtaining a U.S. tourist visa. Sometimes the refusal may be due to an oversight when filling out the form. Simply correct the error and submit a new application.

What to do when the ESTA application status is “pending”?

You can only wait. A pending ESTA application simply means that the file has not yet received a final answer from the American authorities. Don’t worry, the decision will be transmitted within 72 hours.

What is the duration between two trips during the two-year validity period?

There is no official time period defined for the gap between two ESTA trips. Our only advice: don’t overdo it, by returning to the United States 3 days after a 90-day stay, for example. The decision to accept you or not is made by the immigration officers at the airport or port. If they see that you are traveling frequently and returning to your home country for only a few days, they will suspect that you are a permanent resident and may deny you boarding.

Do you have any other questions?

If you have another question you can consult our glossary or our help page to be informed of the latest news concerning the ESTA.