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ESTA application for USA travel

To travel to the United States visa-free, you must complete an electronic ESTA application. Learn about the requirements for the ESTA USA procedure and get instructions for the application.

What is an ESTA application?

An ESTA application is a digital process you must go through on your way to an electronic travel authorization for the USA. With the resulting ESTA approval, you can travel to the United States visa-free for up to 90 days.

ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is the name of the visa-waiver system administered by the US government. Thanks to the fully automatic verification of travel applications, the digital ESTA process offers nationals from 40 countries the opportunity to get to the USA cheaper, faster, and more accessible than with a conventional visa.

Travel to the USA with ESTA! Apply for ESTA now

Requirements for ESTA approval: overview

Citizens of 40 countries can apply for ESTA to travel to the USA without a visa. These countries include:

Andorra Australia Austria Belgium
Brunei1 Chile Croatia Czech Republic
Denmark Estonia Finland France
Germany Great Britain Greece Hungary2
Iceland Ireland Israel Italy
Japan Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania
Luxembourg Malta Monaco Netherlands
New Zealand Norway Poland Portugal
San Marino Singapore Slovakia Slovenia
South Korea Spain Sweden Switzerland

1 The validity period of an ESTA authorization for travelers from Brunei has been reduced from two years to one year, effective July 6th, 2023.

2 The validity period of an ESTA authorization for Hungarian travelers has been shortened from two years to one year, effective August 1st, 2023. In addition, Hungarians are now only allowed to enter the US once per ESTA and also require a Hungarian birth certificate for the ESTA process.

In addition to nationality, as an ESTA applicant, you must meet some other requirements, such as:

  • You must have a valid biometric passport (e-passport).
  • The purpose of your trip must be tourism, business, medical, or transit only.
  • You may not plan to take up employment or immigrate.
  • Your trip to the United States must not exceed 90 days.
  • You do not answer “yes” to any security questions asked in the ESTA application (e.g., about a criminal history or infectious diseases).
  • You may not be a citizen of the following countries: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria (this also applies to dual citizenship).
  • You did not violate US immigration laws in the past or have been deported from the USA.
  • You have never had an ESTA application rejected.
  • You do not hold a valid US visitor visa at the time of application.
  • You did not travel to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, or Syria since March 1st, 2011, or Cuba since January 12th, 2021.
  • You were never denied entry into the USA in the past.
  • You did not make any mistakes in your ESTA application.
  • The information you provided in the ESTA application is 100% true and consistent with the information in your passport.
  • Travelers from Hungary need a Hungarian birth certificate for the ESTA application

Get help with your ESTA application

You can complete your ESTA application with the help of The American Dream’s USA experts at where you get a direct contact person, a reminder service, and additional security and guarantees. If you don’t need any extras, you can apply via the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at

Passport validity for your ESTA application

Before submitting your ESTA application, make sure your passport is either valid until the end of your trip to the United States (if your country is a member of the United States Six Month Club) or at least for six months beyond your planned stay in the USA.

Apply for ESTA: how it works

Before you click through the short ESTA application form on the website of your trusted ESTA agency, you should have all the important data ready. You will need the following information during the application, both for yourself and for children traveling with you or other tour group members:

  • Name as it appears in your passport
  • Gender
  • Date and place of birth
  • Passport data (number and validity) and, if necessary, identity card data or "National Identification Number" (depending on nationality)
  • Names of parents
  • Contact details (e-mail address, postal address, and telephone number)
  • First address within the US (e.g., hotel)
  • Contact person for emergencies
  • Information on other nationalities and passport data
  • Information about your employer (or your work situation)
  • Information about your social media profiles
  • Information on security-related questions and biographical events (e.g., state of health, criminal record, travel history, and others)

Scan the data page of your passport using the scanning function built into the ESTA process or upload an easy-to-read file (PDF, JPG, or PNG format) that you have prepared before starting the application.

You must fill out all fields in the electronic ESTA application in order not to risk rejection. Should you not have certain information, e.g., your parents' names, you can answer "UNKNOWN."

Answer all ESTA security questions truthfully. These relate to your medical condition, criminal record, previous visa refusals and expulsions, and potential risks associated with your trip.


We strongly advise against lying in the ESTA application. False information can lead to criminal prosecution and permanent entry bans. If you are not suitable for the ESTA procedure, apply for a US visa rather than risk the severe consequences of providing false information in the ESTA application.

Payment of the ESTA fee

After reviewing and submitting your application, you will be asked to pay the ESTA processing fee. The US authorities charge a fee of $ 21 per person, which contains a $ 4 processing fee and a $ 17 permit fee.

The official application page of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security allows you to pay by credit card, debit card, or PayPal.

Suppose you prefer a more comfortable method of the ESTA approval. In that case, you can have your application submitted through an ESTA agency, which results in a higher processing fee of € 50 on average. However, you enjoy numerous advantages:

  • A simplified application form
  • Real-time advice via live chat or phone
  • Application review and correction by ESTA experts
  • Money-back guarantee in the rare event of a refusal
  • A larger selection of payment methods

At reputable ESTA agencies, you can pay for your ESTA application by credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, or Sofort.

After the payment, you will receive an ESTA confirmation with your application number to your e-mail address.

Check your ESTA status

After submitting your ESTA application, you can check the status at any time. Simply log into your ESTA account with your e-mail address and password. We recommend checking your ESTA status before any trip to the United States, as on rare occasions existing ESTA authorizations may be revoked due to:

  • Conflicts with US immigration authorities
  • New intelligence from US authorities regarding a traveler
  • Travel to countries considered "risky"
  • Identification documents reported stolen or lost, or
  • Name confusion


When applying through ESTA agencies like The American Dream, you will be kept up to date by your ESTA advisory team. Status updates, upcoming deadlines, and other reminders come straight to your e-mail inbox.

ESTA risks

The simple ESTA procedure has nothing but advantages for international travelers who want to go to the USA. Finally, the digital comparison with international databases makes ESTA much cheaper, faster, and less complicated than obtaining a classic US visa.

However, if you submit your application directly via the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the check will be fully automated. This means that transposed digits, missing data, inconsistencies between the information provided in the application and passport data, and "yes" answers to the ESTA security questions will result in an automatic rejection of your application.

ESTA rejection = suspension from the ESTA system

You will understand why you should not make any mistakes in the ESTA application when you know the consequences of a rejection: anyone who has been denied an ESTA no longer qualifies for the Visa Waiver Program and will have to apply for a US visa in the future to be able to travel to the USA.

The fact that the CPB does not employ personnel to perform additional checks for objections or ambiguities in ESTA applications means that time and again, travelers are barred from the ESTA process, often for seemingly no reason. Even technical difficulties on the part of the applicants can lead to incomplete applications and, thus, to rejection and blocking. Y

ou can counter these known ESTA risks in two ways:

  1. Make every effort to submit a meticulous and error-free application and acquire prior knowledge of the ESTA system and the technical requirements of the application form on the US government's website.
  2. Seek the help of a trusted ESTA agency, such as The American Dream, where a multilingual team of ESTA experts will thoroughly review your application before submission and work with you to make any necessary corrections.

In any case, it is worth investing more time or, alternatively, a little more money in a correct ESTA application instead of going through the much more expensive and time-consuming process of obtaining a US visa from the embassies and consulates.

Travel to the USA with ESTA! Apply for ESTA now

The difference between ESTA and US visa

We compare the ESTA procedure with the conventional visa process at embassies and consulates:

  ESTA US visa
Application online paper form and embassy/consulate appointment
Necessary documents passport passport, supporting documents for visa purposes, appointment confirmation, application confirmation page, passport photos, former passports, and possibly also employment certificates, references, or certificates of good conduct
Waiting period maximum 72 hours several weeks to months
Costs from $ 21 (US government) to about € 50 (at a service agency with extras and more security) from $ 185
Suitable for tourists, business travelers, patients seeking medical treatment, transit travelers tourists, business travelers, students, job seekers, fiancés, dependents of visa holders, expatriates

What happens to my ESTA data?

During the ESTA application review, your information is automatically checked against international databases. These include, e.g., the US Department of State's Consular Consolidated Database (CCD), the US Department of Homeland Security's Automated Targeting System (ATS), and Interpol's Stolen and Lost Travel Documents Database (SLTD).

ESTA data is subject to strict data protection and security measures to protect the confidentiality of personal data. The US government has security measures to prevent unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of data.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may store your data internally for a maximum of one year after the ESTA expires. After that, all information is archived for another 12 years. They can no longer be called up for new visa or ESTA applications and may only be viewed after special authorization for law enforcement, national security, or investigative purposes.

Good to know

Although the ESTA data is primarily for security purposes at entry into the United States, it may also be shared with law enforcement agencies when there is a credible threat or suspicion of criminal activity. In addition, the information may be disclosed in response to a court order, subpoena, or other legal process.

ESTA wait times

The processing of an ESTA application by the US authorities takes a maximum of 72 hours. Only in exceptional cases, manual checks, technical difficulties, or other circumstances can make you wait longer than 72 hours for your ESTA approval.

Even with this fast processing time, we recommend that you apply at the beginning of your vacation planning, even if you have no specific travel dates. The reason: if your application is denied, you will have to go through the much longer US visa application process to enter the United States.

Applying for an ESTA at the airport? Better not!

It is not uncommon for travelers to try to submit their ESTA applications at the last minute before checking in with their airline or boarding their cruise ship. While there's a good chance you can get an ESTA within minutes, we don't recommend such risky maneuvers. In the worst-case scenario, you will miss your flight or ship.

Travel easier, cheaper, and faster with ESTA

The ESTA process offers a cost-effective, fast, and hassle-free alternative to the traditional US visa. As long as you meet the ESTA eligibility requirements, receive professional assistance with the application process, and meet all deadlines, the ESTA process is the easiest and most convenient way to travel to the United States, aside from having a Green Card.

Travel to the USA with ESTA! Apply for ESTA now
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