Is your next trip to the United States?
Have you already thrown the itinerary on paper, what to visit, where to eat and where to shop … but do you know what documents are needed to get in the American soil?
To reinforce the security measures, the US Government has devised an online system that from January 12, 2009 makes it necessary to obtain the ESTA (Electronic System for Traver Authorization) to enter the country. This is a mandatory document that is part of the “Visa Waiver Program” and if you are wondering how it is obtained, what is its validity and where it is requested, by continuing to read this article, you will have an answer to all your questions. Take a note!
So, what documents do you need for a trip to the United States?
- Electronic passport (with expiration date after the return from the trip)
- ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)
- Return flight ticket
In addition to these, I always advise you to take out travel insurance, which covers any medical expenses or other needs.
Who should apply for ESTA
All eligible international travelers who wish to travel to the United States for a period not exceeding 90 days and for reasons of tourism, business or transit.
To request it, you must be a citizen or legal resident of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. See the full list here:
- Andorra, Australia, Austria
- Belgium, Brunei
- Finland, France
- Germany, Greece
- Ireland, Iceland, Italy
- Liechtenstein, Luxembourg
- New Zealand, Norway
- Netherlands, Portugal
- United Kingdom
- San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
You must also have a valid passport issued by a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program and be in possession of the return or transit ticket.
When to apply for ESTA
The ESTA can be requested at any time before embarking, but I advise you to request it at least 72 hours in advance, to avoid the risk of problems or various delays that prevent you from getting it in time for departure.
The application consists of different parts, including the following ones.
You will need to enter your personal data, and upload the passport in PDF (with automatic data compilation).
You will also be asked for contact information, any social media accounts and profession.
You will specify whether your trip to the USA is in transit to another country or if you are planning a stay in the United States.
Questions related to eligibility
A series of questions to check if you have the eligibility to obtain the ESTA, to which you must answer in order to move on to the next phase.
What is the validity of the ESTA authorization?
Now, let’s take a step forward and, once approved, your authorization will be valid for 2 years or until your passport expires, if it occurs before two years.
During the 2 years of validity you can go to the States as many times as you want, provided you do not exceed 90 days of stay in the country for every single visit and that the purpose of the trip is always tourism or business.
Type of passport required to obtain ESTA visa: Biometric (Electronic Passport)
To be able to travel in the United States it is necessary to have a biometric passport, commonly called an electronic passport or E-passports. This is a passport issued by one of the countries that are part of the VWP program since October 2006. Inserted in the passport is the presence of a chip that allows the recognition of the holder through the optical reading, these passports recognizable thanks to a symbol that appears on the cover.
ESTA – Passport and minors
The ESTA visa is a personal travel document, so even children and babies need an ESTA independent travel authorization, separate from their parents. For this reason, every child or infant must have their own passport.