Everything You Need to Know About an Electronic System for Travel Authorization


Traveling is one of the most enjoyable activities to do. You get to interact with new people, cultures, environments, and so on. The good news is that the U.S. government made traveling even easier by introducing the Electronic System for Travel Authorization(ESTA). This system allows citizens from countries that qualify for the visa waiver program to enter the U.S. territory without a visa. This article provides all the information you need to know about an Electronic System for Travel Authorization. 

What is an ESTA?

An Electronic System for Travel Authorization involves a system that determines the eligibility of visitors traveling to the U.S. This system is governed by the Visa Waiver Program. Still, an ESTA authorization does not determine whether one is admissible to the U.S. Instead, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine your admissibility upon arrival.

How Long is an ESTA Valid for?

Primarily, your ESTA validity runs for two years from its authorization date or upon your passport expiration. It is worth noting that your ESTA will still expire even if you do not visit the U.S. during the two years after its issuance. Also, it does not renew itself automatically; thus, you must renew it online. ESTA renewal requires an applicant to follow the same procedures as when you were initially applying for the authorization.

Other factors that will require you to reapply for an ESTA include a change in the:

  • Citizenship
  • Legal name
  • Gender
  • Or any other biographical information alterations.

While you might experience other changes, they can be updated on your application at any time. Remember, new information that might compromise your eligibility for the visa waiver program can lead to an ESTA application decline.

Usually, there is no problem when your ESTA expires while in the U.S. territory as long as you do not exceed the 90-day limit. Otherwise, the ESTA must be valid when you travel to the U.S.

Can I Check My ESTA Validity?

One of the most googled questions about an ESTA involves “How to check if my ESTA is still valid”. Most travelers do not want to get on the wrong side of the law, as it might be more than you could imagine. The good news is that anyone can check the validity of their ESTA application online at any time. All you need is to visit the government website and click on the checking existing application option. This should take you to a section named “returning applicants check ESTA status. You can click on either check group status or check individual status, depending on your ESTA application type.

A valid ESTA will indicate on the website as “Authorisation Approved,” and the expiry date indicated under this status.

While you can always refer online, keeping a printed or saved version of an ESTA form showing approved authorization is best. This will help you check the authorization’s validity easily. Do not forget that your ESTA application becomes automatically invalid when your passport expires. Thus, as you acquire a new passport, you should also get an ESTA.

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