Published: May 01, 2018, Updated: Oct 16, 2022
ESTA application errors can be costly or worse, they can limit a traveler’s ability to travel to the US by making them not authorized to travel under the visa waiver program. Thus, ESTA applicants should fill out their form with care given the numerous types of errors that can occur.
The types of errors are split into two categories. The first category contains Critical Errors that would likely result in an ESTA applicant needing to submit a new application, or require an applicant to contact Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to request an exception to reapply given the mistake. If the request is denied by CBP, then an applicant will need to apply for a U.S. tourist or business visa. The second category is for Minor Errors, where the applicant will be able to edit their application after submission, or where the error cannot be fixed yet will likely not affect admissibility into the United States.
The top eleven most common yet avoidable errors on an ESTA form include the following:
Passport numbers vary depending on the country of citizenship where the passport was issued. A typical mistake is entering too many, too little or the incorrect passport number on an ESTA application. The passport numbers submitted on the ESTA application cannot be edited after submission so if an applicant has made a mistake by providing an incorrect passport number, they will need to submit a new ESTA form.
Applicants confuse the two of these fields however they are usually identical. In that if a passport issuing country is Italy, then the country of citizenship would also be Italy.
ESTA applicants who make a mistake on their birth date, month or year will need to submit a new application as this field cannot be edited once an application is submitted. Thus, however trivial it seems, ESTA applicants should double check the answers they provided for this field prior to form submission.
Passports currently specify individuals as ‘male’ or ‘female’. Should the information on an ESTA form not match those provided on the ESTA applicants passport, the ESTA may be denied or the applicant may be denied boarding to the United States if he / she is unable to obtain a new ESTA in time for their departure.
ESTA applicants will need to include their middle names with this field. Similar to fields one through three above, if an applicant omits their middle name from the ‘First (given) Name’ field, then a new application will need to be submitted.
Similarly, if a name is misspelled for any reason, a new application will need to be submitted as an ESTA authorization will be invalidated if the details provide don the form do not match those on the applicant’s passport.
Applicants who answer ‘yes’ to any of the eligibility questions in error can either have their ESTA denied. Conversely, applicants answering ‘no’ to any of these questions in error can be banned from entering the U.S. for up to five years should it be determined the applicant has tried to deceive U.S. border authorities.
Applicants who have their ESTAs approved can still bring about unforeseen difficulties for themselves should they dispute the ESTA charge on their bank or credit card statements. By performing a chargeback, an authorized ESTA will be revoked by CBP as it will be considered ‘unpaid’. Typically, applicants will be able to reapply however, their subsequent ESTA applications may automatically be denied do to the previous chargeback committed against the ESTA fee.
Providing an incorrect email address will make it impossible for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to contact the applicant regarding the status of their ESTA application. However, if an applicant realizes they have made a mistake on the email address, they can edit this information.
Travelers can check the status of their applications without charge by visiting https://usa-esta.com/check-your-application. An ESTA application should be checked 24 hours before departure to ensure there will be no surprises for travelers upon boarding a U.S. bound airplane or boat.
There are numerous fields on the ESTA form which for one reason or another, may be incorrectly filled or incomplete. For instance, the ‘US Point of Contact Information’ may be a hotel which may have not booked yet or is currently unknown. Thus, applicants can improvise by entering ‘00000’ or ‘UNKNOWN’ for such fields. Most of the non-critical fields can be edited after an ESTA application has been submitted or approved.
From these top eleven most common mistakes, potential ESTA applicants may see these as obvious and easily avoidable, however being mindful of their causes and consequences gives greater appreciation towards taking care and being diligent when completing the ESTA application form.