All intending travellers to the United States must confirm the validity of their ESTA before commencing to travel. Any traveller attempting to enter the country with an invalid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will be denied entry into the United States.
It is not required that you print your ESTA Travel Authorization before you’ll be allowed to enter the United States. The border control has access to electronic authentication of all necessary documentation. Meanwhile, it is highly recommended that you keep a printed copy of the approved ESTA with you when travelling to the U.S. A good number of airlines require travellers to present their ESTA Travel Authorization before they would be allowed to board the plane.
You may be concerned about the validity of your ESTA for any of the following reasons:
- You are not certain of when you tendered your last application
- You are not certain if your ESTA Travel Authorization has expired
- You don’t have your ESTA number anymore
- A family member, friend, or colleague are not certain of their ESTA status
An ESTA remains valid for a two year period, counting from the day you are approved. However, if your passport expires before the two year term is exhausted, your ESTA will become invalid. While your ESTA is valid, you are free to enter the United States as many times as you need provided each stay does not exceed 90 days.
How do you verify that your ESTA is still valid?
Your ESTA will cease to be valid if you are issued a new passport or you alter any data that cannot be edited. You will be required to tender a new ESTA application should this be your case. Data that will render your ESTA invalid when changed include:
- Your name
- Your gender
- Your country of citizenship
- The provisions for which you provided a “yes” or “no” answer to any of the ESTA application questions.
If you would like to confirm the condition of your ESTA, you may do any of these:
- Visit the U.S. embassy or consulate closest to you
- Check through the website of the United States Customs and Border Patrol
- Consult with an agency authorised to handle ESTA and provide them with your details
Any authorised channel you decide to use will require that you provide the following information:
- Your passport number
- Your full name as it appears on your passport
- Your country of citizenship
- The country that issued your passport
- Your date of birth
- Your email address
- Your address of stay while you’re in the United States
You’ll need to provide the address where you intend to stay when you arrive in the U.S. only if your trip has already been planned.
Once your ESTA status has been verified, you’ll receive an email notifying of the validity of your travel permit. In the email, you’ll find a PDF document that will contain the date your ESTA is set to expire. If your ESTA is still valid, you are free to use it but once it is past the expiry date, you’ll have to apply for a fresh one. Each new application comes with an attendant fee.
When can you apply for a new ESTA?
As a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) traveller, there is no need to wait to make concrete plans to travel to the U.S. before you submit an ESTA application. You may provide information such as your address of stay if you have the required information, otherwise you may fill ‘unknown’ if you’re not yet certain where you’ll be staying.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommends that once VWP travellers start making specific plans to visit the United States, they should go through the website to send their applications for an ESTA. Authentication of VWP travellers’ eligibility to travel is almost immediate, and they may send their application at any point before they travel to the United States. There is provision for last minute ESTA applications and emergency travellers such that applications may still be made at the airport before a VWP traveller boards the plane.
Information required for your ESTA application
To complete your ESTA application, you will be required to provide:
- Your passport information, full name, and date of birth date.
- Credit card information for applicable fees.
- Honest answers to all eligibility questions about your criminal records, health status, and history of revocations and deportations. (Providing false answers will result in disqualification.)
Will having someone else send your application invalidate your ESTA?
Whatever the reason, having a friend, colleague, or relative submit your ETSA application will not affect the validity of your ETSA. The person will have to pay the applicable fee and you are held responsible by provision of the law for the answers sent in your name.
What if you make mistakes in your ESTA application?
You can correct any errors in your ESTA application if you are yet to submit it. Before your information is passed along, you are given a review period within which you can scan your application for possible errors. If you made a mistake when filling out data that cannot be edited such as your passport information, name, and date of birth, you will have to tender a fresh application, with the accompanying fees for each new application.
If you make a mistake in your email address, your address of stay in the U.S., and other such information, you’ll be able to edit the information easily and update your details. You can make corrections to the expiration date and passport issuing date before payment is processed.
If payment has already been processed, you’ll not be able to make the necessary corrections. You’ll need to send a new application with the attending fee. Leaving applications with errors and mistakes is futile because such applications will be deleted by the system.