On November 23, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) introduced new features to the Electronic Travel System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website, the portal through which prospective Visa Waiver Program travelers can apply to travel to the United States.
ESTA enables eligible travelers to apply for authorization to travel to the United States for temporary business or tourism without a visa. To qualify for ESTA, a traveler must be a citizen or national of one of the 39 countries designated in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program and meet other requirements. It is important to note that Bermuda passports are not eligible for ESTA, and individuals should not apply for an ESTA using a Bermuda passport. Individuals can, however, apply for ESTA using a United Kingdom passport.
The enhanced ESTA website includes a new tutorial video and provides conveniences such as:
- The ability to save incomplete applications and return to them later;
- Real-time validation for all data fields, which enables users to quickly identify errors and incomplete information; and
- A new e-mail verification process that enables the ‘save and exit’ function and provides additional security for users.
Travelers who wish to remain in the United States for more than 90 days or who wish to work, study or engage in other activities requiring a visa must apply for a visa to travel to the United States.
CBP recommends that first-time ESTA applicants apply at least 72 hours in advance of travel to allow sufficient time for processing. Travel authorizations are generally valid for two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first.
CBP reminds travelers that there is only one ESTA website (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/). Third-party companies that charge fees to assist travelers in submitting ESTA applications are not operating on behalf of the U.S. Government.
More information about ESTA is available here.