When will I need to apply for my ESTA?
Apply for ESTA
1 Enter your details into the application form 2 Double check your form for accuracy 3 Make your payment so we can submit your application
Apply for ESTA

When will I need to apply for my ESTA?

Applying for an ESTA is usually a relatively quick process, and almost instantaneous for the vast majority of cases. Nonetheless, you should make sure that you know all the information about when an ESTA will be required, when you should start your application to avoid any potential problems, and know what method of travel, country of departure, and time you will require an ESTA to be able to complete your journey. This guide will give you all you need to know about when you need to send off your ESTA form.

When will travellers be required to obtain an ESTA?

Travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries journeying to the United States of America have been eligible to apply for an ESTA since the 1st of August 2008, and an ESTA has been mandatory since the 12th of January, 2009.

When can a traveller apply for travel authorisation via ESTA?

Travellers who meet the criteria can apply for travel authorisation via ESTA at any time. There is no need to have specific plans to travel to the U.S. on a certain date. This means that travellers can easily apply for their ESTA in advance before taking the trip at any time before it expires. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends applying for an ESTA no later than 72 hours before the intended travel time.

Do I need an ESTA if I drive into the United States from Canada or Mexico?

No. ESTAs only apply to those boarding an aircraft or vessel bound for the U.S. It does not apply to those driving into the country from Canada or Mexico. If you are travelling into the United States by land, you will need to go through a separate Visa Waiver Program, distinct from ESTA.

What happens if I fly to the United States but do not have an ESTA?

You will require an ESTA to board any vessel or aircraft bound for the United States, but if you should somehow do so without an ESTA, you may have serious problems and could be denied entry at port once you reach the United States.

Do travellers arriving in the United States from a non VWP country need an ESTA?

Yes. The ESTA works on your passport, if you have one from a VWP (Visa Waiver Program) country. You will require one to board any aircraft or vessel bound for the United States if its point of destination is anywhere outside the country. It is the nationality on your passport that counts, not the location of your departure.

How far in advance of a trip is it necessary to apply for travel authorization through ESTA?

Although you can submit your ESTA application at any time, the U.S. Department of Homeland security advises to apply 72 hours before your time of travel. Most ESTA applications will go through much quicker than this, however this allows some time in case of any problems. You can apply at any time, however, without the need for specific travel plans, so if you need to travel to the U.S. at short notice, it is better to apply for your ESTA in advance. So long as your ESTA is valid, you can travel to the United States at any time. ESTAs usually remain valid for a period of up to two years, unless your passport expires before then, or your basic information or circumstances submitted on your application change in the meantime. After this, you will need to reapply, but so long as your ESTA remains valid, you can travel to the United States at any time.

What happens when a traveler submits an application and how long does it take for ESTA to process an application?

The ESTA process is usually extremely fast. Your application can have one of three different statuses:


Your application has been accepted and you are free to travel to the U.S. at any point during which your ESTA remains valid.


Your application is being dealt with, and you will need to keep checking the site to find out the status of your application, until it is eventually approved or denied.


You have been turned down for your ESTA application, and should you wish to travel to the U.S., will need to apply for a non-immigration Visa.

In general, you should apply for your ESTA no later than 72 hours before your departure time. Most applications will be far quicker, but it is important to allow room for any potential problems. By using our service, we can help you by ensuring there are no mistakes on your form which could delay the process or require you to re-apply.