Simply put, the ESTA is a visa which allows you to enter in to the country and it is a relatively new process that has only been in place since 2009. It is always important to make sure that you are fully planned and prepared for your trip and this is one of the most important things that you’ll need to do before leaving home. If you aren’t sure what the ESTA is, here is what you need to know.

What Is An ESTA?

ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization and it is essentially the visa which American Homeland security require that you have in order to enter the country.

Why An ESTA?

The idea behind the ESTA replacing the traditional visa is twofold, it is to help both tourists and the government in getting you into the country as quickly as possible, and keeping others out. This process gives the US government the chance to screen visitors before they enter the country which means that they don’t have to waste valuable time and money on dealing with people who shouldn’t be entering the country. For tourists this means that the immigration process runs far more smoothly and that you can get on with your holiday, as soon as you arrive.

Who Needs an ESTA?

Simply put, almost everyone in the world who is visiting the United States will need an ESTA. This was an agreement which the United States signed in to with many nations around the world and whilst there are one or two exceptions, the large majority of citizens from all over the globe require an ESTA.

How Do I Get One?

The ESTA application process is very simple and you can do it online straight from the ESTA USA website. In order to apply for your ESTA you will need a valid passport, a debit or credit card and your email address. The process is incredibly simple and just requires you to answer a few questions about the purpose of your trip and your travel history.

How Long Will I Wait?

In the large majority of cases, you will find out about whether or not you have been granted the visa instantly although in some cases it can take up to 48 hours so don’t panic if you don’t get confirmation straight away.

How Long Does It Last?

Once you have been approved for the ESTA, it will remain like this for 2 years before you have to re-apply. You can check the status of your ESTA on the website which will tell you when the visa was issued, and when it runs out.

If you are visiting the States this year, don’t forget to complete your application before you leave home or you may not be allowed to enter the country.