Do I need an ESTA for New York?
ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) is an online form and you need it for your New York trip. ESTA is a part of the enhanced security requirements in the US. Anybody travelling to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) needs an ESTA. VWP allows most British Citizens with a valid and electronic passport, to visit the US for up to 90 days without a visa. Even though you do not need a visa, you are required to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) at least 3 days BEFORE you leave for New York.
How do I apply for ESTA?
It is easy to apply for ESTA online. It will cost $14 and should be paid by credit card or with PayPal. Usually you will receive an approval to travel to New York within a couple of seconds but it can also take a bit longer. You can go to ‘Check ESTA Status’ on the website and log in to see the status of your application. I advise you to apply on time to avoid problems. “Authorisation Approved” means ESTA was approved and you are good to travel, “Travel Not Authorised” means you must contact your embassy or consulate and “Authorisation Pending” means you need to check the status later again.
Make sure your travel partner and other family members also fill in this information. Even babies travelling without a flight ticket still need their own ESTA form. ESTA is valid for 2 years and you can retrieve it on their site if you travel again to New York. You don’t need to re-fill the information either. Exception is if your passport has changed, then you need to reapply and pay the fee again. You should be aware that there are companies who are willing to do the application for you and will charge more. Please know that you are then paying for a service that is not necessary. Everybody can apply for ESTA themselves.
Do I need to fill in any more forms?
You don’t need to fill in extra forms if you have an ESTA, but if you have a visa, you do. Best is to check with the flight attendant handing out forms during the flight and bring a pen with you just in case. Customs forms are handed out mid-flight and you should fill it in right away, do not wait until you are at customs. Family that has the same surname only needs to fill in one form for the whole family.