Frequently Asked Questions About the ESTA

Are you planning to travel to the United States?

If you are a citizen of a country that is NOT a member of the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), you will need a regular passport with a full visa. (See the questions below for a list of the 38 countries participating in the VWP.)

If you are a citizen of a country that is a member of the Visa Waiver Programme, you only need an ESTA to enter the United States.

“ESTA” stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. An ESTA Visa is a travel permit, not an actual visa.  It grants stays of up to 90 days in the U.S. for bU.S.iness, pleasure, or transit. The ESTA application may be found on this website.

USA ESTA is a non-governmental website. We assist citizens of other countries in applying for ESTAs and in navigating the documentation process for entering the United States. We charge US $84.00 for this service, which includes the official $14 fee paid to the United States government.

We invite you to apply for your ESTA through this website and enjoy our comprehensive support services. You may also apply for your ESTA for a lesser fee on the U.S. State Department website or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website at

What is the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)?

The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) became mandatory for entry into the United States in 2009. All visitors from member countries of the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) must have an ESTA before departure to the U.S.

As stated above, the ESTA is a travel permit. It replaces Form I-94W, a green paper document that travelers previously were required to fill out. The ESTA application and confirmation process occur online at least three days before departure.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (the counterpart to the UK’s Home Office) manages the VWP which issues ESTAs. Information contained in a traveler’s ESTA is used by airline staff to allow people onto flights bound for the United States.

ESTAs are valid for two years and grant stays of up to 90 days in length. A new ESTA must be applied for if two years have elapsed since the issuance of the last ESTA, if a traveler has obtained a new passport, or if a name change or gender change has occurred.

Obtaining an ESTA is much faster than obtaining a full visa. The latter must be obtained by visiting a U.S. Embassy by appointment. An ESTA, on the other hand, may be obtained in minutes through an online application, such as is available on this website.

Is the ESTA a visa?

No. The ESTA is a travel permit, not a visa. It’s commonly called a visa because—like a visa—it grants a traveler permission as a “non-immigrant person” to enter the U.S. Obtaining a visa is more complex and time-consuming than obtaining an ESTA.

Who must apply for an ESTA?

All travelers who belong to Visa Waiver Programme countries and desire to enter the United States must apply for an ESTA. Without the ESTA, travelers will not be allowed to board their flight to the U.S. If you already have a visa and a valid passport, you do not need an ESTA.

Is it possible to obtain the ESTA online?

Yes. Travelers must provide personal and travel information, state of health, and payment information in order to obtain the ESTA online.

What do I need in order to get an ESTA?

You must have an e-passport (a regular book passport with an electronic chip).

This passport must come from a country that is a member of the Visa Waiver Programme.

You must demonstrate that your stay in the U.S. will be for 90 days or less.

Can I update my ESTA application after I’ve submitted it?

Yes. The only details that cannot be updated after you’ve submitted your application are your passport and biographical information. If a change has occurred that impacts your eligibility, the updating process is different.

How do I know if my passport qualifies for an ESTA application?

All travelers applying for an ESTA must have an e-passport with an e-passport logo on the front cover, stipulates the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Also, the passport cannot expire within six months of your departure date. There are some exceptions to this latter restriction. Several countries, including the U.K., are not under the six-month rule; the only stipulation for their citizens is that their passport must be valid for the duration of their stay.

How do I know if my country is a member of the Visa Waiver Programme (VWp)?

As of 2017, the 38 countries below are members of the VWP:







Czech Republic












Korea, Republic of








New Zealand



San Marino








United Kingdom

When does an ESTA expire?

An ESTA is valid for two years from the date of issuance, provided you have not received a new passport or changed your country of residence, name, or gender. A revoked or expired ESTA is not valid. If an ESTA expires while a visitor is in the U.S., he or she does not have to get a new one since its function is to screen travelers for entry into the country.

Could anything render my ESTA invalid before it expires?

Yes. Your ESTA becomes invalid if you have changed or renewed your passport, or changed your country of residence, name, or gender.

How does changed passport information impact my ESTA?

You must apply for a new ESTA if your passport information changes. Be aware of your passport’s validity and expiration date; it is the only travel document with specific worldwide acceptance and authority.

When should I apply for an ESTA?

You should apply for your ESTA at least three days before your departure. We recommend applying sooner than this. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is required to respond to ESTA applications within three days.

May I apply for an ESTA without knowing all details of my travel plans?

Yes. You do not have to have your itinerary completely settled before you apply for an ESTA. However, you do need to provide a contact person in the United States. We recommend providing at least the first address of where you expect to stay when you arrive in the country.

What if I am only in transit? Do I still need an ESTA?

Yes. Even if you’re just passing through the United States on your way to your destination, you must have an ESTA. U.S. border officials check and verify personal documents and identity even when you pass through.

Is there any reason I should contact the U.S. embassy during my stay?

No, not if you only plan to be in the country for 90 days or less. The ESTA application and approval takes place online before you leave for the U.S.

Does having the ESTA guarantee entry into the United States?

No. It simply allows you to board your flight and travel to the U.S. Once you have arrived, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers evaluate your documentation and either allow you to enter or turn you away.

What are the U.S. requirements to enter the country?

To enter the United States from a Visa Waiver Programme member country, you must have an e-passport from your country and a valid ESTA. Additionally, your stay in the country must be 90 days or less.

When you arrive in the country, Customs and Border Protection officers will inspect your documents (and you). They will determine if you allowed further entry or not.

 Which is better, an ESTA or a visa?

Neither one is better. The main difference between the two is the length of your stay. For a 90-day stay or less, the ESTA is the easier and faster entry vehicle. For stays longer than 90 days, the standard visa is the best choice.

Who sees the personal information I submit with my ESTA application?

The Department of Homeland Security stores your data; only authorized personnel are allowed access to it.

How long is my ESTA application personal data stored?

While your ESTA is valid (usually two years), your personal data remains active. Following this period, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security retains your information for an additional year, and after this, it is archived for twelve years. The number of persons with access during the archival period is limited.

Can anyone access my personal ESTA data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security?

No. However, data can be shared with other sections of the department as well as with Departments of State, U.S. embassies, and U.S. consulates. Your information may come under scrutiny if you have been denied an ESTA but are now applying for a visa.

Regarding the 90-day stay limit, can I leave the U.S. temporarily and return for another 90 days?

Yes, if you go to a country other than Canada and Mexico. Upon your arrival back in the United States, you will be subject to a Customs and Border Protection officer inspection.

Do I need a certain kind of computer to apply for an ESTA?

You may use any computer that supports a 128-bit browser to complete and submit an ESTA application. All popular browsers meet this criterion, such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Safari.

Does it take long to apply for the ESTA?

No. The form is not long, and the questions are straightforward. Have your passport handy so that you can input your passport information.

What types of questions are asked in the ESTA application?

You will be asked questions about yourself (name and gender), where you live, the nature of your travel plans, your health, criminal behavior, and passport information.

What if my ESTA application is rejected?

If your ESTA application is denied, you must apply for a standard visa at a U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate in the country of your permanent residence.

What am I permitted to bring into the United States?

Pay close attention to the items that you bring on an airplane bound for the United States. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens all items going onto planes in carryon bags and bags that are checked.

Travelling with items that the TSA has prohibited can result in large penalties.

Not sure if an item you wish to bring is permitted? Ask USA ESTA or send it to “AskTSA” on Twitter or Facebook Messenger.

For more information, visit

Liquids Rule

You may take liquids in travel containers that hold 3.4 oz (100 ml) or less. The screening process is expedited when your put containers of liquids in small clear plastic bags. Containers with more than 3.4 oz must be packed in checked baggage.

There are a few exemptions to the 3.4 oz limitation. These include medications with the prescription receipt, baby foods, and baby-related liquids and products.


Most flammable items are not permitted in checked and carry-on luggage. Lithium batteries and phone charges are allowed. Weapons, explosives, airbags, and flammable liquid and gas products are not permitted.

Individual Item Permissions

Bang Snaps: NO

Blasting Caps: NO

Butane: NO

Chlorine for Spas and Pools: NO

Cigarettes/Cigars: YES

Disposable and Zippo Lighters: YES (no fuel allowed)

Dry Batteries (AA, AAA, C, and D): YES

Dynamite: NO

English Christmas Crackers: NO

Fire Extinguishers and Other Compressed Gas Cylinders: NO

Firecrackers: NO

Fireworks: NO

Flammable Liquid, Gel, or Aerosol Paint: NO

Flammable Paints: NO

Fuels: NO

Gas Torches: NO

Gasoline: NO

Gel-Type Candles:

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Hand Grenades: NO

Lighter Fluid: NO

Liquid Bleach: NO

Lithium batteries with less than 100-watt hours: YES

Lithium batteries outside of a device are not permitted in checked luggage.

Lithium batteries with more than 100 watt hours

Carry On: YES, but must be checked by airline officials and are limited to two. Loose lithium batteries are not permitted in checked bags.

Non-Spillable Wet Batteries: YES (limit two, not to exceed 12 volts and 100-watt hours)

Party Poppers: NO

Pepper Spray:

Carry On: NO

Checked: Verify with the Airline

Phone Chargers: YES

Realistic Replicas of Explosives: NO

Realistic Replicas of Incendiaries: NO

Recreational Oxygen: NO

Safety Matches:

Carry On: YES (one box)

Checked: NO

Self-Defense Sprays

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES (one 4 fl. Oz. bottle with safety to prevent leakage)

Solid Candles: YES

Sparklers: NO

Spray Paint: NO

Strike-anywhere Matches: NO

Tear Gas: NO

Torch Lighters: NO

Vehicle Airbags: NO

Firearms: NO


Carry On: NO

Checked: YES (Verify with airline)

BB Guns

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES (Verify with airline)

Compressed Air Guns

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES (compressed air cylinder detached)

Flare Guns

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES (unloaded, in a hard case, declared before departure)

Flares: NO

Gun Lighters: NO

Gun Powder: NO

Parts of Guns and Firearms

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Pellet Guns

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES (Verify with airline)


Dry food is usually permitted. Animal products usually not permitted on board.

Alcoholic beverages: YES (Carry mini alcohol bottles in a single quart-sized bag)

Alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol: NO

Baby Food: YES

Baby Formula: YES

Bottled Water: YES (in bottles less than 100 ml)

Breast Milk: YES

Candy: YES

Canned Foods: YES

Cereal: YES

Cheese (Creamy): YES (Less than 100 ml)

Cheese (Solid): YES

Chocolate (Solid): YES

Coffee (Beans or Ground): YES

Coffee (Liquid): YES (Liquid coffee less than 100 ml)

Coffee Thermos (empty): YES

Cooked Meat, Seafood and Vegetable (No Liquid): YES

Cookies: YES

Crackers: YES

Creamy Dips and Spreads: YES (Less than 100 ml)

Dried Fruits: YES

Fresh Eggs: YES

Fresh Meat, Seafood and Vegetable: YES (without liquids)

Fresh Whole Fruits: YES

Frozen Food: YES (without liquids)

Gel Ice Packs: YES

Gravy: YES (less than 100 ml)

Gum: YES

Hummus: YES (less than 100 ml)

Ice cream: YES

Jam and Jelly: YES (less than 100 ml)

Juice for Babies: YES

Juices: YES (less than 100 ml)

Lobster (live)

Carry On: (Verify with airline)

Checked: YES (Verify with airline)

Maple Syrup: YES (less than 100 ml)

Nuts: YES

Oils and Vinegars: YES (less than 100 ml)

Peanut Butter: YES (less than 100 ml)

Pies and Cakes: YES

Pizza: YES

Protein Powder: YES

Salad Dressing: YES (less than 100 ml)

Salsa and Sauces: YES (less than 100 ml)

Salt: YES

Sandwiches: YES

Snacks: YES (no liquids)

Solid Foods: YES

Soups: YES (less than 100 ml)

Water for Babies: YES

Household and Tools

Most common household tools are allowed in carry on bags except for sharp objects and flammable items.

Axes and Hatchets:

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Blender: YES (blades must be removed)

Bottle Opener: YES

Breast Pump: YES

Bug Repellent: YES (less than 100 ml)

Cattle Prods

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Cell Phones: YES

Clock: YES

Coat Hangers: YES

Coffee/Espresso Maker: YES

Cologne: YES (less than 100 ml)

Concealer: YES (less than 100 ml)

Conditioner: YES (less than 100 ml)

Corkscrews (with no blade): YES

Cream: YES (less than 100 ml)


Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Curling Iron (with cord): YES

Curling Irons (cordless)

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES (those fueled with butane or a gas cartridge must be checked)

Deodorant (liquid): YES (less than 100 ml)

Deodorant (Solid): YES

Detergent (liquid): YES (less than 100 ml)

Detergent (powder or pellet): YES

Drills and Drill Bits

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Duct Tape: YES

DVD Players: YES

Electric Razors: YES

Empty Water Bottle: YES

Engine-powered Equipment Completely Purged of Fuel

Carry On: Verify directly with Airline

Checked: NO

Engine-powered Equipment with Residual Fuel: NO

Equipment such as generators and chainsaws are not permitted.

Eye Liners (liquid): YES (less than 100 ml)

Fidget Spinners: YES

Flashlights: YES (over 7 inches long must be checked)

Fork: YES

Foundation: YES

Full Sized Video Game Consoles: YES

Hair Dryer: YES

Hair Straightener (Flat Iron): YES

Hair Texturizer: YES (less than 100 ml)

Hairspray: YES (less than 100 ml)


Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Hand Sanitizers: YES (less than 100 ml)

Heating Pad (Gel)

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Heating Pads (Electric): YES

iPod: YES

Laptops: YES

License plate: YES

Light Bulbs: YES

Lipsticks: YES

Lotion: YES (less than 100 ml)

Magnets: YES

Makeup Remover: YES (less than 100 ml)

Mascara: YES (less than 100 ml)


Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Mirrors: YES

Mixer: YES (Verify with airline)

Multi-tool without Blades: YES

Nail file: YES

Nail File (metal): YES

Nail Polish: YES (less than 100 ml)

Nail Polish Remover: YES (less than 100 ml)

Paintings: YES

Powder Makeup: YES

Printer Ink: YES

Radio: YES

Remote Controlled Cars: YES

Samsung Galaxy Note 7: NO (These are banned from air travel in the U.S.)

Screwdriver (longer than 7 inches)

Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Screwdrivers (shorter than 7 inches): YES

Selfie Stick: YES

Sewing Machine: YES

Shaving Cream: YES (less than 100ml)

Small Toy Cars: YES

Solid Makeup: YES

Speakers: YES

Spillable Batteries: NO

Staplers: YES

Tablets: YES

Tattoo Guns: YES

Tea Kettle: YES

TENS unit: YES


Carry On: NO

Checked: YES

Toothbrush: YES

Tortilla Press: YES

Toy Robots: YES

Tripods: YES

Turpentine and Paint Thinner: NO

For more information, contact the airline directly or visit

What happens when I enter the United States?

You must complete a customs declaration form on which you state if you’re transporting prohibited or restricted items.

What if I’m denied entry into the United States?

An ESTA does not guarantee that a traveler will be permitted to enter the United States. You may submit a “request for redress” through the Travelers Redress Inquire Program of the Department of Homeland Security.

How do I avoid problems at the border?

Make sure all your documentation is in order before you attempt to enter the country. Be ready to show return tickets and answer questions accurately about your travel plans. Be sure not to pack an restricted or prohibited items.