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How to apply for ESTA

Updated: Jan 21, 2024  | 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.

Visit the FAQ to learn more or start your application now.

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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.

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.


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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

Employment details

You will need the name, address and telephone number of your employer if you are currently employed.

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.

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.

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.

Group applications

Up 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.

Retrieving authorizations before and after applying

After applying for an ESTA, you can check your application by visiting the ESTA status check and viewing the status online. If your ESTA is approved, you are permitted to travel to the United States via air, sea or land. If your ESTA is pending, please allow 72 hours for DHS to process your application 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.

Lastly, if you made a mistake on your ESTA, you can contact the CBP ESTA Help team via the help center

How to apply for ESTA
How to apply for ESTA