Are you planning a trip from London to the US? As well as checking that your passport is still valid and sorting your travel insurance, have you thought about applying for your ESTA yet?
ESTA is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization and in many countries it has replaced the US Visa system that used to be in place. It is part of the Visa Waiver System for travellers (from agreed countries) visiting the United States.
Do I need to apply for ESTA?
If you are travelling from London or anywhere else in the UK then you will need to apply for the ESTA visa waiver service to be allowed into the US. The ESTA is for people who are visiting the US for business or tourism for a period of less than 90 days.
How do I apply for ESTA?
The quickest way to get your application for ESTA visa processed is by applying via the online easy-fill ESTA form on the website.
Some travel companies will offer their services to apply for the ESTA on your behalf but this can often cost more. It can also take longer that way. You should apply for your ESTA USA at least 72 hours before you depart, giving enough time to deal with any issues that arise before you travel.
How to complete your application for ESTA visa
The form includes a number of sections that you must complete including your name, DOB, address, parents’ details and emergency contact details. You will also have to provide the address of the place you will be staying when you get to the US. If you are planning on travelling around the US then you will provide details of your first stop. You are also required to provide details of your employment and your passport details.
The eligibility section must be completed to ascertain whether the US are prepared to allow you into the country based on information including health, criminal convictions and whether any applications have previously been declined. There are also questions regarding certain countries you may have travelled since 2011.
Once you have completed the form and made sure to fil in the sections marked with an asterisk, you can pay for the application and wait to hear back. Many applications are processed within just a few hours but some can take longer, which is why you are recommended to apply at least 72 hours in advance of travelling.
How long can I use the ESTA for?
Your ESTA will be valid for two years from application and you are able to use it for multiple trips to the US over that period. It is important to check whether your ESTA is still valid before you plan any new trips to US.
Once you have had your application approved, you can travel around the US and explore as many places as you wish. So whether you are heading to US for business meetings or you are going to Times Square for New Year, don’t forget your ESTA.