How to apply for ESTA

Published on: Nov 27, 2017, Last Edited: Mar 11, 2020 | Tags: ESTA Application Guide, ESTA Requirements

Want to learn how to apply for ESTA? To apply for ESTA, applicants should ensure they are prepared by scheduling 15-20 minutes to complete the form, gathering the necessary documents, and allocate time to pre-read and understand the questions. Below we have put together a checklist of how to apply for ESTA.

How to apply for ESTA
How to apply for ESTA

1) Time – Allow at least 15-20 minutes to complete each ESTA application. For example, if you are applying for a family of four, allow at least 60 minutes to complete the application and to check over the information to ensure the information is accurate.

2) Stable internet access – This should be obvious yet often applicants try to apply using a slow or unstable internet connection. It is advised ESTA applicants have access to stable ethernet or Wi-Fi connections to fill out the form and submit their applications. Application time-out occurs frequently and users will need to start a new application in such circumstances.

3) Passports – A valid electronic passport from a participating visa waiver country is required to apply for ESTA. You will need to be recognized as a citizen of a Visa Waiver country to be eligible for ESTA. If you are a citizen of multiple countries, you will need to provide information from all your passports.

4) Family Information – You will be requested to provide information on the first and last names of your parents. If you do not have this information, you can provide “UNKNOWN”.

5) Emergency contact information – You will need the name, telephone number and email address of a person or organization that will be your emergency contact, inside or outside the United States, who will be notified in the event you are in an accident.

6) U.S. Contact Person Details - You will need the name, telephone number and address of your contact person or organization in the United States. The address information is verified to ensure data accuracy. However, you can put 'UNKNOWN' for text fields and '00000' for number fields on the form if you have no U.S. contact person.

7) U.S. Address Details - You should have the name and contact details of the location you will be staying during your visit. This address information is also verified to ensure data accuracy. However, if you do not yet have this information, you can provide “UNKNOWN” for textual fields and “00000” for numerical fields.

8) Employment details – You will need the name, address and telephone number of your employer if you are currently employed.

9) Police reports and criminal records (optional) – If you have ever been arrested for a crime, you should check your police records for previous serious criminal histories which may impact your ESTA application.

10) Payment Information – There are a select number of payment options available for ESTA. ESTA will accept credit or debit cards from MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover. Other payment options such as cash, bank transfer, check, PayPal, or others are not currently accepted.

11) 7 day payment period – You must pay for your ESTA application within 7 days of submission. Otherwise, your application will expire and you will then need to reapply.

12) Group applicationsUp to 50 applications can be submitted and paid for at the same time. Individuals in the same application group are not required to travel together, neither is the primary applicant.

13) Retrieving authorizations before and after applying – After applying for an ESTA, you can check the status of your application by visiting and viewing the status online. If your ESTA is approved, you can board your air or sea vessel to the United States. If your ESTA is pending, please wait 72 hours and then try checking the status again. If your ESTA is denied, you will need to apply for U.S. visa. If your ESTA is expired or not found, please double check the information you provided or apply for another ESTA.

Now you know how to apply for ESTA. Although it may seem like a trivial process, there are several components applicants need to consider prior to filing out and submitting their ESTA application. Visit the FAQ to learn more or start your application.

Apply for ESTA



Apply for ESTA

ESTA is a mandatory travel authorization for travelers visiting the United States either by Sea or Air for tourism, transit or business visits under 90 days.

Apply for ESTA