Travelling to the US? Here’s what you need to know about ESTA

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: Applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is mandatory in order to travel to the US

THE US has always been an ideal destination for all types of holidays. From family packages for a visit to Disney World – “the happiest place on earth” on the West Coast, to the bustling New York, the “city that never sleeps”, for big lights and shopping sprees.

It is no wonder a recent survey highlighted only 42 per cent of US residents own a passport. Who needs to travel abroad when you can experience every climate.

If you live outside of the US, you too could experience all that America has to offer, depending on your holiday needs. This includes picturesque beaches to skiing down snow covered mountains; the choices are almost limitless.

Choosing the right location in the US is the hard part. You should be aware that in order to have access to anywhere in the US you will need a travel authorisation known as an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

Applying for an ESTA is mandatory in order to travel to the US without a visa. It only takes a few minutes online and there is a fee of around £29.95 per person.

Once the authorities have approved your ESTA, it will automatically be shared with your airline and authorities and you have the liberty of traveling to the US for periods up to 90 days at a time.

If you are planning to make your visit to the US a regular event, then it’s good to know that your ESTA lasts for two years before you have to re-apply. Within the two years you are permitted to make an unlimited amount of trips to the US.

The application for an ESTA can take a maximum of 72 hours, however in the event that you left it till the last minute, you can apply for an urgent ESTA which can be granted within an hour.

There are three different responses to your online ESTA application. Your application will either be approved, pending or not authorised. If your application isn’t approved, fear not, as you will still be able to apply for a visa.

Once you have been approved, then it’s just a matter of enjoying your trip knowing you won’t face any nasty surprises at border patrol. Thankfully there are a lot of resources online that go into details explain the application for a ESTA and what you should expect.

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