Below you will find some useful general information about the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
What is a travel authorization?
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is an online application system only for travelers from Visa Waiver Program participating countries. From January 12, 2009, all travelers that qualify under the Visa Waiver Program must be authorized to travel to the United States by air or sea. The ESTA requirement is solely to obtain a “permit to travel” to the United States and apply for admission to enter. A Travel Authorization is not a visa. People who do not have a machine readable passport issued by a country belonging to the Visa Waiver Program must apply for a Business Visa or B-1 tourist visa B-2.
Travelers who belong to the Visa Waiver Program may immediately apply for a Travel Authorization through a qualified website of ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). From the January 12, 2009, a traveler’s Visa Waiver Program without approved Travel Authorization may be denied boarding or entry if you try to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.
EXEMPTION VISA COUNTRIES: Citizens of the following countries may qualify to enter the United States under the visa waiver countries. If you’re not a passport holder of one of these countries, you should apply for Business Visa B-1 or B-2 Tourist Visa.
Germany, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, South Korea, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Czech Republic, San Marino, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
Am I required to file Form I-94W or ESTA Application Form?
The I-94W (green form I-94) must be completed by all travelers entering the United States under ESTA. While the ESTA application must be filled out online before you travel, the I-94W form and the Customs form are usually delivered by the airline during the trip to the United States. Moreover, forms are generally available in the U.S. port of entry. Personal data and travel information on your US ESTA form must match the information on Form I-94W and the Customs Form 6059B. In the future, the I-94W will no longer be necessary, but this will only be possible after each individual company has implemented its own ESTA system, which will require to be tested and certified by the Information Technology Offices of CBP (Customs and Border Protection).
Who can apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)?
Any traveler with a machine readable passport issued by any of the 36 countries belonging to the Visa Waiver Program.