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

As citizens of a Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) country, British residents are required by law to obtain an ESTA travel authorisation prior to travelling to the USA.

The VWP is a US government-led scheme which allows citizens from particular countries in the programme to travel for up to 90 days in the USA for business or tourism without having to obtain a visa.

Completing the online ESTA application is mandatory, and if accepted, means that you will not have to apply for a visa to visit the country.

Making an ESTA application

For further information regarding ESTA application, take a look at the Embassy of the United States website.


I am planning a trip to the USA. When should I apply for an ESTA?

It is highly recommended that you submit for your ESTA application at least 72 hours prior to departure. If you are planning on visiting the USA in the next 3-6 months then you should apply for your ESTA as soon as possible.

I do not know my flight details yet. Can I still apply for an ESTA?

Yes. You can make an application without full USA destination address or flight details. However, make sure you update these to your application as soon as possible.

My ESTA application has been authorised, now what?

When your application is authorised you will see your unique 14-character long application number consisting of numbers and letters. Make sure you write your unique number down in one or several ways – The U.S. Government will not send you any confirmation or reminders of this number, so you are required to keep track of it yourself.

Your ESTA application, once accepted, is valid for multiple visits for two years or until the expiration of your passport, whichever occurs first.

My ESTA application has been refused. What do I do?

If your ESTA application has been refused but you would still like to visit the USA, you will need to apply to the US Embassy for a Visa.

I am travelling with my family to the USA. Can we get a joint ESTA?

No. Each member of your family who intends to travel to the USA will need to fill in their own individual ESTA application. A third party can fill this information into an application on behalf of a relation, however, the applicant will be held responsible for all information submitted.