Do I need an ESTA for New York?

ESTA - Electronic System for Travel Authorization

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 electronic passport to visit the US for up to 90 days without a visa. Even though you don’t 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’s easy to apply for ESTA online. It costs $14 which should be paid by credit card or PayPal. Usually you will receive an approval to travel within a couple of seconds but it can 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 that you 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 again later.

Make sure your travel partner and other family members also fill in this information. Even babies travelling without a flight ticket need their own ESTA. ESTA is valid for 2 years and you can retrieve it on the site if you return to the US. You don’t need to re-enter the information except 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 who will charge more. Please know that you are then paying for an unnecessary service. Everybody can apply for ESTA themselves.

Applying for ESTA without a credit card

When you apply for ESTA via the official site, you can only pay by credit card or Paypal, which can be an issue for some. If you don’t have a credit card and want to pay with your debit card you can use a website that will do the application for you. There are however additional service fees charged in this process. Apply for an ESTA application with

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, don’t wait until you are at customs. Family that has the same surname only needs one form.

How long do I need to have left on my passport?

Do you have a UK passport and are you travelling with an ESTA? In order to enter the United States your passport must be valid up to and including the day that you are due to leave the country again. To avoid problems in unexpected situations like a missed or cancelled flight or sickness, it is more realistic to travel with a passport that has a longer validity period.  Also, every traveler, including children and babies must have their own passport. (This information was last updated on 1st March 2017).

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