ESTA in transit

ESTA in Transit why ?

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is an automatic system used in place of a visa to determine if a person is allowed to visit the United States of America. The ESTA Travel Authorization is obtained online by the traveler themselves, so they do not have to visit an embassy or pay high fees.

Let’s be clear, ESTA is not a visa. It does not meet the legal requirements to serve in lieu of a U.S. visa when a visa is required. You can only obtain an ESTA if your home country is part of the Visa Waiver Program.

The VWP enables citizens from participating countries to visit the USA for tourism or business for a maximum of 90 days. The Visa Waiver Program was set in place to make traveling to the USA easier, cheaper and less stressful. Travelers can apply for the ESTA online and costs are very low compared to visa’s.

In transit

An ESTA travel authorisation is only related to "permission to travel to the United States", whether it be to visit or transit through to another destination doesn’t matter.

If you are planning to transit through or visit the US within the next six months, it is recommended that you begin the application process as soon as possible, just to be sure your application will go through in time.


For journey

you are planning to only travel through the US in transit, this means you still need to apply for an ESTA travel authorization.

When you complete the ESTA application, the words "In Transit" and the final destination should be inserted into the address field under the heading "Address While In the United States", this will make it clear to the border secury officers that you’re only visiting the US in transit. If you ever decide to visit the US in the future for an actual vacation, not just transit, you need to apply for a new ESTA travel authorization with a different address.

You should apply for an ESTA authorization as soon as you can, just to be sure that your application will go through in time. It is recommended to not apply later than three days before you depart, but it is not unlikely that some people’s application doesn’t go through because of user error and they will need to reapply at the airport to be able to check in. Of course, you would want to avoid that at any cost, which is why it is recommended to apply as soon as you book your trip. ESTA authorizations cost a few bucks, but are not nearly as expensive as actual visa’s. Payment goes via credit card.


What if I’m not granted permission?

Even if you’re only staying in the US for a few hours, border security is always allowed to not grant you permission based on your ESTA application.

If that’s the case, border security will decide if you can apply for a visa on the spot or will need to go back home and apply for a visa there. People who have been denied cannot apply for an ESTA again, instead they will need to apply for a B-2 Visa.

ESTA application is valid for 2 years for 90 day stays in the country.