The ESTA form is an essential step in planning your next trip to the USA. It is important to note that a single error in this form can result in the American authorities refusing to accept you in the United States of America. Hence the importance of knowing its usefulness, how to fill out the ESTA questionnaire and especially where to complete it.
In this article, we explain everything you need to know before leaving for the USA with your ESTA authorization.
What is the purpose of the ESTA form ?
The ESTA form allows you to obtain an electronic travel authorization (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), in order to travel to the United States. This authorization is issued only under certain conditions. Indeed, foreign nationals are required to be from one of the countries participating in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (in 2022, there are 40 countries in total), but not only. They must also hold a biometric or electronic passport. The duration of the trip must not exceed 90 days and the national must be traveling to the United States for a vacation, a business appointment or for transit.
Once you have the document, once you have filled out the ESTA form, it can be used for its entire validity period (two consecutive years) unless you have changed your passport in the meantime. Please note that the passport number is linked to your authorization. If you no longer have the same passport, you must apply for a new ESTA to travel to the USA.
The authorization only allows you to travel to the United States, but the customs officer is the only person who can let you cross the U.S. border.
How to fill out the ESTA questionnaire ?
Now that you know the purpose of the ESTA questionnaireYou must know how to fill it out when you apply online. This will depend on the site you choose to obtain your ESTA document. Indeed, it is possible to order on a specialized site or on the official site of the American government. Find out the differences between these sites so you can make the choice that is right for you.
Filling out the ESTA on a private site
On a private company website, additional fees may be added to the base price of the ESTA. This is due to the support the site provides. Simply fill out a simple online form. You will need to provide your last name, first name, passport number, date of issue and expiry of the passport, etc. A team will review all of this information before sending it to the U.S. authorities who will decide whether or not you qualify for authorization.
Fill out the ESTA on the U.S. government website
If you order from the U.S. government website, the price will be a little lower. However, you will not be able to ask for assistance when filling out the ESTA form and you will have to be extra vigilant in order not to receive a refusal from the American authorities. The ESTA form is composed of several parts:
- your civil status and the data of your valid passport;
- Emergency contact information and location of accommodation within the United States;
- questions about your criminal and medical history.
It can take up to 72 hours for the U.S. authorities to approve your application, but you may receive the ESTA within minutes. You can fly to the USA as soon as you have received the authorization.
Error in the ESTA form
To go to the USA, your ESTA questionnaire must not contain any typos. If you receive a refusal from the authorities because of a typo, it is possible to reapply. You must pay the fees requested by the site again.
Is the denial due to non-compliance with the eligibility criteria? You must then turn to the American embassy to apply for a USA visa.