News report | | 01/02/2024 | ±5 minutes reading time

Since November 2022, travellers are required to upload a photo or scan of their passport in order to apply for a USA ESTA. Many travellers encounter issues while uploading this mandatory document. On this page you will find some tips on how to submit a digital copy of your passport during your ESTA application.

Passport copy mandatory since November 2022

For about a year and a half now, it has been mandatory to upload a photo or scan of the passport when applying for the ESTA USA. Attaching a passport copy to ESTA applications was an option before 2022, but it has now become mandatory. By requiring the submission of a passport copy, the USA authorities hope to reduce the amount of mistakes made while filling in the application form. In fact, based on the provided photo or scan, it can be checked whether the passport data entered in the form matches the data on the passport.

The automated system of the USA

The submitted photos and scans are not controlled manually by the employees of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In fact, the American authorities check these documents using an automated system. The system scans the machine-readable zone (MRZ), namely the two lines (the ones containing many <<< characters) at the bottom of the information page of the passport.

Requirements concerning the passport copy

Your passport copy must meet certain requirements. You may upload either a scan or a digital photo of your passport. If you do not possess a scanner, you may simply use your tablet or smartphone to take a sharp picture of your passport. The passport copy may be either in colour or black and white.

The entire information page of your passport must be visible, especially the MRZ. Therefore, make sure that no text is covered by fingers or other objects, and that the photo has no watermark. It is also important that no disturbing reflections (e.g. caused by the flash) make the text on the passport photo or scan difficult to read.

Uploading explained step by step

Uploading the required documents can be a little tricky, especially for travellers who are not very familiar with computers. If you do not have a scanner and do not know how to upload a photo, you can read our step-by-step instructions below to find out how to easily add a passport copy to your ESTA application.

After paying the fee for your ESTA application, you will be redirected to the submission page, where you can upload the required documents. If you do not have a photo or scan of your passport at hand, you can upload them later. You will receive an email with a link that you can use to open the submission page.

1. Take a picture of your passport

Open the camera on your smartphone or tablet and take a picture of the information page of your passport, namely the one containing your photo and personal details, such as your date of birth and gender. When taking the photo, keep the aforementioned requirements in mind. Make sure that the photo does not contain any reflection and that the information page is fully visible.

If you submit your ESTA application via smartphone or tablet, the submission page will allow you to select a photo directly from the gallery of your device.

2. Send the photo to your computer or laptop

If you apply for the ESTA via computer or laptop, you have to send the picture from your smartphone or tablet to your device first. You can easily do this by sending the photo to yourself via email. Using the email app on your smartphone or tablet, you can easily email the photo to yourself as an attachment. Then you can open the email on your laptop or computer and save the attachment on your desktop or a folder of your choice.

3. Attach the picture to your visa application

To add a photo to your visa application, go to the submission page and click on the blue ‘Upload image’ button, then on ‘Browse’. Then select the photo of your passport. You can then crop the photo by dragging the frame. Make sure that the entire information page is visible and that no parts of the passport are missing. On the right-hand side of the page, you can see an example of what the picture should look like. Once you have done that, check again that the entire machine-readable zone of the passport is visible and in the red frame.

If the text in the red box is not readable, or if you accidentally cropped the photo incorrectly, you do not need to delete the photo. You can instead click on the blue ‘Upload image’ button again and repeat the previous steps. If the photo was uploaded correctly, you can tick the box at the bottom of the page express your agreement with the statement and submit the documents.

4. Extra check by

Before your ESTA application is forwarded to the US immigration service, will check if the uploaded documents meet all the requirements. Moreover, an employee at will check if the passport details provided in the application form correspond to the ones in the passport copy. If there are any mistakes in the details provided, they will be corrected based on your passport copy. Nonetheless, you are always responsible for ensuring that the details provided are correct.

If the passport copy does not meet all the requirements, you will be contacted both via email and SMS. You will then be able to upload a new photo or scan via the submission page. If you cannot correctly upload a passport copy for your ESTA USA, you can always call the visa support center, available 24/7.

Apply now for your ESTA 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 £33.50 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.