Applicants who want to apply for ESTA should make sure they are well prepared. Take time to slowly read the questions and make sure you understand them. Then gather all the required documents, as well as set aside between 15 and 20 minutes to fill out the form. The checklist below was put together to help you with the ESTA application process. They entail what is needed to apply for an ESTA.
ESTA application time
Set aside at least 15 minutes but preferably 20 minutes or more to give you enough time to properly read the questions so you can complete the ESTA application correctly. If the applications are on behalf of yourself and three other family members, you will need at least an hour to complete the whole application and to afterward go through everything again to make sure you entered the correct information.
A stable internet connection
Although this is fairly obvious, applicants often still attempt to apply using an unstable or slow internet connection. It is recommended that ESTA applicants make sure they have access to a reliable Wi-Fi or ethernet connection so they can complete all the form fields and send in their application without any interruptions. If your internet connection is interrupted while you are busy completing the form, a time-out will occur and you will have to start the whole application from scratch.
Internet enabled device such as a laptop, desktop, mobile device or tablet
Applicants will need to apply for an ESTA using a device which can be connected to the internet, such as a laptop, desktop mobile device or tablet. Your device will also need a modern browser that is compatible with the ESTA website.
Passport from a Visa Waiver Country
To apply for an ESTA, you are required to have a valid electronic passport issued by one of the participating visa waiver countries. This means you have to be a citizen of such a country otherwise you are not eligible to get an ESTA. Individuals who are citizens of more than one country should enter the information from each one of their passports.
The ESTA application form requires you to provide both your parents’ last and first names. If you do not know this information, just enter ‘UNKNOWN’.
Emergency Contact Information
Here you should enter the name as well as the telephone number and email address of an individual or an organization, inside or outside the US, that will serve as your emergency contact. If you are ever involved in an accident this person or organization will be contacted by the authorities.
Details Of U.S. Contact Person
Here you should enter the name as well as the phone number and email address of an individual or an organization inside the U.S. that will serve as your contact. To ensure the accuracy of the data, the address you provide will be verified. If you do not have a U.S. contact person or organization, however, you can enter ‘00000’ in number fields and ‘UNKNOWN’ in text fields on the form.
U.S. Address Details
In this field you should enter the name as well as the contact details of the place where you will stay during your visit to the U.S. The address you enter will also be verified to make sure it is accurate. If this information is not available yet, you can again enter ‘00000’ for numerical fields and ‘UNKNOWN’ for text fields.
If you are presently employed, this is where you have to supply the name, the address, and also the telephone number of the person or company that employs you.
If the police have ever arrested you for a criminal offense, it is best that you check your historical police records to see if it shows up under your history of serious criminal offenses. This might negatively affect the chances of your ESTA application being approved.
The ESTA system accepts a limited number of payment options. The list includes debit or credit cards from VISA, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express. Alternative payment options such as checks, bank transfers, cash, PayPal, and others are not supported at the moment.
7 Day Payment Period
You will have to pay the necessary fees for the ESTA application within a week (7 days) after submitting the form. Failure to do so will cause your application to expire and you will have to start the whole application process from scratch again.
A maximum of 50 applications can be sent in and paid for simultaneously. Individuals who form part of the same group application do not have to travel together, neither does the primary applicant have to travel with them.
Checking The Status Of Your ESTA Application
After you have submitted your ESTA application, you will be able to check the status of that application by going to the official ESTA online status check page.
- If the status shows that your ESTA has been approved, you will be able to board a ship or airplane to the U.S.
- If it shows as ‘Pending’, you should wait 72 hours before checking your ESTA status again.
- Should the ESTA application be denied and you still want to go to the U.S. your best option is to apply for a visa.
- If your ESTA status shows up as ‘Not Found’ or ‘Expired’, you should re-check all the information you entered on the form to make sure you did not provide incorrect information somewhere.
Your last option is to submit a new ESTA application should your ESTA be denied for typographical mistakes, or returns a status of ‘Not Found’ or ‘Expired’.
This article has provided a checklist of the technology, time, payment, personal information, and documents required to apply for an ESTA. Applicants can ensure a smooth application experience by following the items on the checklist.