If you are a UK resident who is planning a trip to the USA by sea or air, you are required to complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) before you depart.

This website has been designed to inform you about ESTA and it will explain to you how you can get the ESTA and how long it will be valid for. This website will inform you what to watch out for and how to find an ESTA that will charge you no more than $14-per-person fee. ESTA has been compulsory for 5 years now so it is important to make sure you have a valid one. The only one official Government website which will charge you $14 is


Important Information About ESTA

It is very important to remember that if you have applied for an ESTA with a success, you are not automatically permitted entry to the USA, but you have been established as someone who is eligible to travel to the USA.

The person who makes the last decision is a US Customs and Border Protection officer. At the point of entry, they have the authority to decide that despite having a successful ESTA, you do not fit the VWP criteria. However, do not worry as this is very uncommon and there has only been very few cases when this has happened.

Avoiding Card Fees And Foreign Exchange

It is important that you pay for the right card for the ESTA application fee. Here is a list of all the cards that the ESTA system accepts:

  • MasterCard
  • Visa
  • Discover (JCB, Diners Club)
  • American express

Please be aware that even if your application does not rejected, you will have to pay an admin fee of $4.

These cards can contain hidden charges for example chagrining interest when you make a transaction. However, you can avoid this by using a specialist foreign spending card when making a transaction.

ESTA Online Application

Your authorisation to travel to the USA will be given to you through the online application. However, if you do not have access to the internet, you can ask a friend, relative or a travel agent to complete an ESTA application on your behalf. This is authorised by the US customs and Boarder Protection.

Please make sure that you only fill out an ESTA application from official states with an official logo.

What You Need To Know About ESTA

  • Even if you are not staying in the US, but just passing through, you will be required to have an ESTA. If you do not, then you will be denied boarding. Not having an ESTA could even result to you being sent back home. 
  • The ESTA is only available to fill out online. If you do not have access to the internet at home, please find a way to access the ESTA form online. After you have completed the form, it is important that you keep the reference number provided for you somewhere secure. You may also print the authorisation page if you have access to a printer.
  • ESTA application costs $14 if your application has been accepted. However you will still be charged $4 if your application has been rejected. To ensure that you are not paying more by being charge for a foreign exchange fee, please ensure that you are paying with the right card.
  • Be aware that when you google ESTA, there way me some sites that are pretending to be the official sites. These may charge you more money for your application. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you are using the official ESTA site.
  • It is important that you renew your ESTA every two years as it loses its validity. If you have lost your passport or your authorisation number has expired if you need a new ESTA, then the only way you can update your ESTA by applying for a new one as you will be presented with a new, valid reference number.

Keeping Your Reference Number Safe

You do not need to show your reference number at the Boarder Protection in the USA however, it is also better to print it and take it to the airport with you as some airlines will ask for the printout at the check in. If you lose your reference number, you can always access it by returning to the ESTA website and clicking ‘’retrieve my application’’. You will be required to provide your name, passport number and also give your date of birth. By doing this, you can also check whether your previous ESTA still covers you and it will state when your ESTA will expire.

Do Not Travel Without an ESTA

If you do not have a valid ESTA before your departure to the US, or your application has been declined, then you will not be able to get on your flight. Please remember that anyone can apply for an ESTA on your behalf. Once you have applied, please give 72 hours before a decision is made. However please note that usually it takes a lot faster.

Instructions For Applying For an ESTA

Go to official Government website and complete steps below:

  1. Complete the application
  2. Submit the application
  3. Make a note of your reference number – keep it safe
  4. Proceed with the payment
  5. Check your application status

Make sure that you check whether you are eligible to travel to the USA by filling out an ESTA before you book any trips and accommodation etc. in case you are denied travel.

Please go to the US department of Homeland Security’s ESTA web page. There are instructions in many different languages however you must put down your response in the English language. It should only take you a few minutes to complete each page.

On that page, you will be required to provide your UK contact details. You will need to give your passport number as well as the expiry date, as well as your airport departure, the flight number and the airline that you will be travelling on. The last thing that you will need is to provide us with your address where you will be staying the in USA.

ESTA Explained

ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. This system is online and its purpose is to inform you whether you are suitable to make trips to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program.

The ESTA online system has been introduced to replace the system that required you to fill out a piece of paper on a place to the USA. There was a massive downside to that system as you would only find out if you were eligible to travel to the USA under the VWP on arrival by the security. However now, you can apply for an ESTA online and find out in advance if you are eligible or not and his saves a lot of hassle and time.

Everyone who is traveling to the USA by air or sea is required to have a valid ESTA. However, if you are crossing a land boarder by Canada or Mexico, it is required that you fill I-94W form which is done by paper and handwritten. This will cost you $6 if you do not have an approved ESTA.


Re-Applying For ESTA

If you have applied for an ESTA and it is successful, please be aware that this ESTA does not last forever but it will expire. This will either take place when your passport expires or two years later from when it was granted. If you runs out, you cannot re-new it but you need to apply for a new one. This will give you a new reference number and a new expiry date. Your old ESTA will then automatically become valid.


Rejected ESTA

If your ESTA is declined, you will still unfortunately be charge a $4 admin fee. Applicants denied an ESTA can apply for a non-migrant visa at the US Embassy.