From the 20th January 2010, anyone entering the United States under the ‘Visa Waiver Program’ will now be subject to enhanced security requirements and must apply for approval to travel through the ‘Electronic System for Travel Authorisation’ (ESTA).
Anyone travelling to or transferring through the US from this date must apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours in advance of their journey. Any passengers without ESTA approval or do not hold a valid visa or green card may be denied boarding or entry into the USA.
The ‘Electronic System for Travel Authorisation’ has been in place for more than a year now, although not fully implemented, if you’re not familiar with the process the application takes only 15 minutes to complete and approval for travel can be received within minutes and up to 72 hours.
Once complete, the application is valid for two years and allows multiple visits without the need to reapply. Travellers can apply for an ESTA even if they have no firm plans to travel to the US. However you must amend any necessary data, such as date of travel and your address whilst in the US.
ESTA is applicable to all UK citizens and can be obtained free of charge at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov where further information on the scheme can also be found.
A quick checklist of what you’ll need for each passenger before you start the form –