In order to travel to the USA with an ESTA, all of the requirements on this page must be met. While most tourist or business travelers will likely meet these requirements, it is prudent to look them over nonetheless, regardless of your nationality.

Requirements regarding travel purpose

The following travel purposes do meet the requirements of the ESTA:

  • Going on a vacation
  • Visiting friends or family
  • Visiting clients or suppliers
  • Attending business meetings, negotiations, or conferences

The following travel purposes do not meet the requirements of the ESTA:

  • Entering into service with an American employer
  • Following an education in the United States
  • Investing in or starting an American company
  • Performing journalism-related activities

Working in the US with an ESTA is allowed, provided the traveler does not enter into direct employment with an American company. The traveler 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 for the ESTA concern the planning of a trip to the US:

  • The traveler must own a passport issued by a country in the Visa Waiver Program, which is required to be valid for the entirety of their stay in the United States
  • From the moment of arrival in the United States, the 90 day maximum staying limit commences. Not just in the US; Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands also fall under this umbrella
  • At the moment of arrival in the US, a return- or transit ticket must have already been booked
  • Travelers journeying with an ESTA cannot apply for an American visa, extension or residency permit upon arrival in the country
  • Applying for an ESTA is not sufficient if travel occurs by private plane or private ship
  • Applying for an ESTA with an emergency passport is only possible if the emergency passport contains a digital chip

Requirements of the ESTA and Visa Waiver ProgramRequirements of the ESTA, part of the Visa Waiver Program

Requirements regarding the background of the traveler

In the following cases the requirements for the ESTA are not met, and a visa is required to travel into the United States of America.

  • In or after 2011, the traveler has been to Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, or Yemen, or has at some point held the nationality of one of these countries
  • The traveler has a contagious disease or mental defect that would make them a serious risk to their environment
  • The traveler has at one point been arrested or convicted of a crime that led to serious injury*
  • The traveler has at one point broken a law regarding possession, distribution, or usage of drugs
  • The traveler has not adhered to the requirements for the ESTA or US visa once before already

*A fine for a traffic violation does not count, except if it resulted in serious damage or injury.

Requirements with regards to the statement of agreement

Travelers that journey to the United States on an ESTA need to declare through the ESTA form that they:

  • agree that on arrival, the 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 traveler poses a threat to the safety or public order of their environment, entry can still be denied

Exceptions to the standard requirements

Travelers in possession of a valid American or Canadian passport, a visa, or an American residence permit, are exempt from the above mentioned ESTA requirements. Travelers who are entering into the United States by land (and not by air or ship) do not need to file for an ESTA, but it is advised they do so to shorten the passport checks. They are also still required to adhere to all of the requirements on this page concerning their stay in the United States of America. Travelers that do not possess a passport issued by a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program, but do hold a residence permit in one of these countries, do not meet the requirements of the ESTA, and can only travel with a visa.

Travelers that do not meet the requirements

Don’t meet all the requirements to travel with an ESTA? In that case you cannot use the ESTA form on this website. To travel to America, a US visa is required.

Pay for ESTA cost

If you do meet the requirements, apply for an ESTA now
In case you do meet the ESTA requirements, you can file an:
ESTA application