To travel to the USA, you require either a visa or an ESTA. Applying for an ESTA is easier than applying for a visa. To travel with an ESTA, you must meet all the requirements on this page. For tourists and business travellers, this is usually not a problem. Nevertheless, it is recommended still reading this page carefully.
Requirements regarding travel purpose
The following travel purposes do meet the requirements of the ESTA:
- Tourism (on holiday to the USA)
- Visiting friends or family
- Visiting clients or suppliers
- Undergoing medical treatment
- Attending business meetings, negotiations or conferences
The following travel purposes do not meet the requirements of the ESTA:
- Taking up employment with an American employer
- Studying in the United States
- Investing in or starting an American company
- Performing journalism-related activities
Working in the USA with an ESTA is allowed, provided the traveller does not enter into direct employment with an American company. The traveller is allowed to be paid for the works performed in the USA, as long as the paying party is located outside of the United States. This way, it qualifies as a "business trip" and meets the requirements of the ESTA.
Requirements regarding travel planning
The following requirements apply for planning a trip to the US with an ESTA:
- All travellers (EU and UK citizens) must comply with the rules for the prevention of coronavirus/COVID-19
- From the moment of arrival in the United States, the 90-day maximum staying limit commences. In addition to the time limit in the USA, this limit also extends to Canada, Mexico, and the Carribbean Islands.
- At the moment of arrival in the USA, a return or transit ticket must have already been booked
- Travellers entering the country with an ESTA cannot apply for a US visa, extension or residence permit upon arrival in the country
- Applying for an ESTA USA is not sufficient for travellers arriving by private plane or private ship
- As of October 2022, an ESTA is also required when travelling to the USA by land
Requirements of the ESTA, part of the Visa Waiver Program
In order to apply for an ESTA, your passport must meet the following requirements:
- Your passport must be valid throughout your stay in the USA
- You must have an electronic passport that contains a digital chip (often called a biometric passport or ePass)
- Emergency passports and German child passports do not contain a chip and may therefore not be used for travel with an ESTA
Requirements regarding the background of the traveller
To qualify for an ESTA, the traveller must have UK or Irish nationality or that of one of the other countries mentioned on the nationalities overview page. In the following cases, the requirements for the ESTA are not met, and a visa is strictly required instead to travel to the USA:
- In or after 2011, the traveller has been to Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Libya or Yemen, or has at any point in time held the nationality of one of these countries
- The traveller has been in Cuba as of 12 January 2021 or at any time since.
- The traveller has a contagious disease or mental defect that would make them a serious risk to their environment
- The traveller has at one point been arrested or convicted of a crime that led to serious injury*
- The traveller has at one point broken a law regarding the possession, distribution or usage of drugs
- The traveller has not adhered to the requirements for either an ESTA or US visa in the past
*A fine for a traffic violation is not taken into account here, except in the event that it would have resulted in serious damage or injury.
Requirements regarding the statement of agreement
Travellers entering the US with an ESTA need to declare through the ESTA form that they:
- agree that on arrival, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is allowed to take biometric data from them, including but not limited to fingerprints
- do not pose a threat to the public health, public order or law enforcement of their direct environment
- do not engage in and have never engaged in sabotage, espionage, terrorism and/or genocide
- are aware that the granting of an ESTA is in no way an absolute guarantee that they are allowed to enter the USA; should the immigration service deem that the traveller poses a threat to the safety or public order of their environment, entry can still be denied
Exceptions to the standard requirements
Travellers who hold a valid American or Canadian passport, a visa or an American residence permit, are exempt from the above-mentioned ESTA requirements. Travellers that do not hold a passport issued by a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program, but do hold a residence permit from one of these countries, do not meet the ESTA requirements and can only travel with a visa.
Travellers that do not meet the requirements
Are you unable to meet all the requirements to travel with an ESTA? In that case, you cannot use the ESTA form on this website. To still travel to the USA, a US visa is required.
If you do meet the requirements, apply for an ESTA now
In case you do meet the ESTA requirements, you can submit an:
e-Visa.co.uk is a commercial and professional visa agency, and supports travellers in obtaining, among others, the ESTA USA. e-Visa.co.uk 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 esta.cbp.dhs.gov). However, not with our level of support. If you submit your application via e-Visa.co.uk, 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.