ESTA: What You Need to Know

Esta Visa Waiver Programme

You may have already heard of an ESTA. The aim of this guide is to provide you with an understanding of what an ESTA is, who needs it, and how long it lasts.

ESTA application DoHS
Only use the Official ESTA application Website.

What is ESTA?

ESTA is an abbreviation for Electronic System Travel Authorisation, a process that determines whether or not you are eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

An ESTA, allows U.K citizens, to travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. Note that all visitors from the U.K must obtain an approved ESTA before departing for the United States.

Who Needs ESTA?

Any UK citizen or national traveling to the United States for business or tourism purposes under the VWP needs to apply for ESTA.

If you are traveling to the United States to either study, or work,  you will need to obtain a visa, as an ESTA is not suitable in these circumstances.

How to Apply for ESTA

You can only apply for ESTA online by visiting the official ESTA website ( The application process is pretty straightforward but we would advise setting aside some time to complete the online application. Applicants can apply as an individual or as a group

You will be asked to provide a photograph of each applicant as well as information, relating to the applicant and their travel itinerary. You will also need to answer some eligibility questions. The current processing fee for a ESTA application is $21 per person.

It is essential to apply for ESTA at least 72 hours before departure to the United States, however we would strongly suggest that you submit your request as soon as possible in order to leave yourself with sufficient time should anything go wrong.

How Long Does ESTA Last?

An ESTA is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. So remember if you have renewed or replaced your passport since your last ESTA application, you will need a new one as your passport number will have changed.

During this period, you can travel to the United States multiple times, as long as each stay does not exceed 90 days.


All U.K citizens from the U.K and some other European countries must have a valid ESTA if they are planning to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. The application process is straightforward, however the key is to ensure to read each question fully before providing an answer. It is is essential to apply early, to ensure that your ESTA is valid before traveling.

If you have any further questions about the ESTA programme, or need further assistance with your application, please use the official government websites below. Happy travels!