An Electronic System for Travel Authorization form is needed by all the persons who want to travel to the United States. Even if you are just passing through, as long as you travel by air or sea, you will need to complete this application.

While completing an ESTA form is not that difficult, it might be confusing if it is your first time. That is why we have created a short guide that contains all the information you need about this form.

What is ESTA?

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization form is required for those who live in countries from the Visa Waiver Program. The VWP made it easier for travelers to come to the US. This form is only needed if you enter the United States by sea or air. For land borders, travelers will need to complete a handwritten I-94W form.

IS the ESTA form obligatory?

ESTA registration is mandatory if you want to enter the United States of America. You should know that even if you are only passing through you will still have to complete an ESTA. However, if your country is not a member of the Visa Waiver Program, you will need a visa instead of an ESTA. This is also the cases for those who want to spend more than 90 days in the US.

Completing an ESTA form

The best part about the ESTA form is that you can fill it online, and it only takes a couple of minutes to fill in everything. You will have to submit some personal details, including some about your passport.

Once you complete it, you will receive a reference number. It is recommended that you keep that number somewhere safe so that you do not lose it. A better idea would be to print the authorization page.


Usually, the ESTA form only costs $14, AND $4 if you are rejected. Nonetheless, you can choose to pay more if you find a website that handles this process for you. This shouldn’t be the case, as it is relatively simple to fill out the application, but it is good to know that you have more options.

On a related note, if you choose to hire the services of a website you should make sure that the site is a valid one. There are many sites who try to scam you, and some of them will even pretend that they are the official website.

ESTA approval

Without the ESTA approval, you won’t be able to enter the United States. Nonetheless, you should know that just because you receive that approval, this does not mean that you will automatically be allowed to enter the country.

A US Customs and Border Protection officer will be the one who decides if you can actually come to the US. Even if you have your ESTA approval, the officer might determine that you don’t fit the criteria and you are not allowed in. Nonetheless, this does not happen often.