News report | | 02/09/2019 | ±4 minutes reading time

Is it possible to apply for an ESTA USA if you ever used drugs? That question is a major source of concern for travellers. The reason for this is the fact that a British tourist was deported from the country for ten years after an SMS was found on her phone, in which she admitted to having used cocaine.

The British tourist travelled to Los Angeles in March with her friend to stay in the USA for two months. The couple was already stopped at customs, because there was a suspicion that they had not followed the validity terms of their visa. When it arose that the tourist had ever done something with cocaine, the visa was cancelled.

What happened?

The British tourist and her friend travelled to Los Angeles together to stay there for two months. US customs authorities questioned their visa application and feared that they would stay too long. That is why they were questioned about their plans and their finances. One was released after an hour, the other had to hand over her bag and phone.

Next, she was given a full physical exam and was then placed in a cell with four other women. Customs searched through her phone and found a text message saying she might have used cocaine. Based on that her visa was rescinded and she was banned from entering the USA for ten years.

Why drug use can lead to cancellation of the ESTA USA

Theoretically, usage of drugs is not an immediate reason to cancel an ESTA USA. The problem can be found in the design of the ESTA system. Applicants are given various questions, including if they ever used drugs. These questions concerns possession, usage or distribution of illegal drugs. If the answer given is yes, the application is usually denied right away.

It is possible that the tourist answered no. Because of that, her ESTA USA was approved. But when she arrived in the US, it became clear that the answer should have been yes. That is why the border control officer felt that she had lied on her application. This automatically makes it so fraud is at play. The ESTA application is then denied. A penalty follows next. For instance, a person might be banned from entering the USA for ten years.

Not just text messages that indicate drug usage can be used as evidence against a traveller, even social media messages can lead to an ESTA USA being rescinded. But according to US attorneys, there needs to be more evidence than a simple message. According to attorneys, the real reason for denying the visa can be lying on a visa application. These are legal documents. When you cheat on one, it can be punishable by severe penalties.

Lying on an ESTA USA application

Foreign tourists are concerned with the question of whether they should lie when applying for an ESTA USA. Experts claim that the government will never find out, but if the government struggles with the application, it is possible to request more information. Starting in 2018, US customs is allowed to search all personal property of the traveller. This includes bags, but also phones and other electronics such as laptops. Furthermore, travellers need to provide the password to customs. When they refuse to cooperate, they are immediately rejected and the ESTA USA is rescinded.

According to US experts, it is advisable for those who have already violated a law on the use or distribution of drugs to consult a lawyer before applying for an ESTA USA. It is possible that this will cause travellers to violate the requirements.

Experts also looked at the question if people should remove photos and videos from their phones before travelling to the USA. In practice, it turns out that those kinds of evidence are often used to refuse entry. Travellers that applied for an ESTA USA can be rejected if they are found to have ever been in contact with drugs. That is why it is important to closely pay attention to the consequences that possession of certain photos and usage of social media can have on applying for the ESTA USA.

ESTA USA application

Applying for an ESTA USA can be easily done through the website of The ESTA USA is a personal and mandatory travel permit to travel to the USA without a visa. An ESTA USA application costs £49.95 per person and can be completed in a few minutes. Applying for an ESTA can be done 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is also possible to submit a group application. The procedure takes about five minutes per traveller.

Afterwards, payment can be simply made through Visa, MasterCard, American Express or PayPal. Travelling to the USA tomorrow already? Then it is necessary to make an urgent application. These are generally granted within 17 minutes. After granting, the applicant receives a confirmation by e-mail. It is not necessary to print the confirmation. Urgent application can in exceptional cases take longer. Apply for an ESTA USA as early as possible.

Please note: this news article about the ESTA for the USA is more than one year old. It might contain outdated information and advice, and no rights can therefore be derived from this article. Are you going on a trip soon and do you wish to do know what rules currently apply? Read all about the up-to-date information about the ESTA for the USA. is a commercial and professional visa agency, and supports travellers in obtaining, among others, the ESTA USA. acts as an intermediary and is in no way part of any government. You can also apply for an ESTA directly with the immigration service (21 USD per ESTA, via However, not with our level of support. If you submit your application via, our support centre is available to you 24/7. In addition, we manually check your application and all the documents you provide before submitting it to the immigration authorities on your behalf. If we suspect any errors or omissions while doing so, we will personally contact you to ensure that your application can still be processed quickly and correctly. To use our services, you pay us 21 USD in consular fees, which we pay to the immigration service on your behalf, as well as £33.77 in service fees as compensation for our services, including VAT. Our services have saved many travellers from major problems during their trip. Should an application be rejected despite our support and verification, we will refund the full purchase price (unless an application for a previous ESTA USA was rejected for the same traveller). Read more about our services here.