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 travellers 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 USA
- 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 for the ESTA concern the planning of a trip to the USA:
- The traveller 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 USA
- From the moment of arrival in the USA, 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 USA, a return- or transit ticket must have already been booked
- Travellers journeying with an ESTA cannot apply for a US 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, part of the Visa Waiver Program
Requirements regarding the background of the traveller
In the following cases the requirements for the ESTA are not met, and a visa is required to travel into the USA.
- In or after 2011, the traveller 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 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 possession, distribution, or usage of drugs
- The traveller 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
Travellers that journey to the USA 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 traveller poses a threat to the safety or public order of their environment, entry can still be denied
Exceptions to the standard requirements
Travellers in possession of a valid American or Canadian passport, a visa, or an American residence permit, are exempt from the above mentioned ESTA requirements. Travellers who are entering the USA by land (and not by air or ship) do not need to apply 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 USA. Travellers that do not possess 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 requirements of the ESTA and can only travel with a visa.
Travellers 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 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: