News report | | 25/04/2018 | ±4 minutes reading time

The Trump government is planning to thoroughly screen visitors when they decide to travel to the United States. For awhile now, British travellers are required to apply for an ESTA USA. This is a digital travel authorisation, in which the authorities state that the traveller is granted permission to enter the USA.

If you want to travel to the USA, you would do well to watch what you are saying on social media, especially if they are from a non-Western country. The U.S. Home Office is planning to ask travellers that want to apply for a visa for their usernames on social media. They must also pass on all phone numbers and e-mail addresses they have used in the past five years. British travellers are thus far exempt from the strict rules the Trump government is planning to push through.

Social media with visa and ESTASocial media

ESTA application

To travel to the United States, British travellers are required to apply for an ESTA USA. This is not an official visa,but a digital travel authorisation, with which the traveller can travel to the USA. This authorisation needs to have been issued before you even board your plane. At the airport, you are checked for a valid authorisation.

Airlines are forbidden from transporting travellers to the USA that do not possess an ESTA USA. All travellers therefore must apply for this digital travel authorisation before leaving for their trip. Furthermore, children also need to posses this authorisation. They cannot be included in the ESTA of their parents.

Non-western travellers planning to apply for a physical visa might soon be asked to provide more information about themselves. It seems that this will not have any effect on ESTA USA applications. The Trump government is planning to thoroughly screen foreign visitors. Travellers from seven Muslim countries, Venezuela and North Korea are already barred from entering the country. Starting last year, some travellers have been asked for their social media accounts.

The government is planning to heavily increase the rate at which they ask people for their social media activities. Roughly 14 million travellers from non-western countries will likely be subjected to questions about their usernames, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. These travellers are advised to refrain from political opinions on social media.

British tourists

This all concerns measures taken against non-western countries. The United Kingdom and other western countries will not have to deal with these rules. Applying for an ESTA for British travellers therefore has not changed. Travellers do not need be as careful about what they say on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Looking at the future, however, it might be wise to still refrain from these kinds of opinions online.

The new questions will furthermore only apply to the D-160 form. This is a form which is required to apply for a physical visa. For many wealthy countries, this requirement does not apply. British travellers only need to apply for an ESTA USA through the ESTA form. This is an electronic form on which travellers can fill in several fields of information.

The ESTA is not mentioned in any of the statements of the US government, and will therefore not be expected to change anytime soon.

No definitive decision

The decision to ask for social media information is not definitive yet. Americans get to comment on it in the next sixty days. The government will then make a final decision on it. Congress has no input on the matter.

The purpose of the questions is to “only allow those people in who share and respect our values and our people”, Trump told his followers in 2016. The proposition also states that these questions are necessary for a full background check. The new rules do not apply for diplomats.

Social media

Which social media are screened exactly, the government has not specified yet. At the very least, it seems to concern networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Furthermore, it is not clear exactly what the U.S. government wants to check. Revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. security forces primarily deal with network analysis. The usernames, e-mail addresses and phone numbers of travellers can help to properly screen the network of a traveller.

Take 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 £33.28 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.