The official procedure for an ESTA application

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The official procedure for an ESTA application

For the last few years, all persons that wish to visit the United States, for business or touristic purposes, are required to show an official document called an ESTA at the borders. But what is an ESTA and how can it be easily applied for to prepare for one’s arrival in the United States?  This is what we will cover here in detail to facilitate your preparations.


Why is it necessary to submit an official ESTA authorization application?

As you undoubtedly already know, when you travel outside the European Union you need to hold a valid current visa, as if not you risk being blocked at the borders. This is the case for numerous countries. However, recently the United States decided to facilitate procedures for travellers wishing to visit their country by creating a new official document that replaces the standard visa for citizens from the applicable member countries.

This official document is called ESTA and it is essential that you submit your application before starting your travel to the United States. In fact, this document will enable you to pass through the American borders but you will also be required to provide it at the beginning of your trip, when you board the plane or ship that will take you there. The international transport companies are actually associated with the American authorities and implement a systematic control of their passengers to ensure that everyone has completed an official ESTA document authorization application.

If you try to fly to North America without his document registered in your name it is highly probable that you will not be allowed to disembark.


How to make an official ESTA document application

Whereas before, applying for a visa was very complicated and required visits to numerous administrative offices and the submission of a number of documents, things have been simplified overall with the ESTA. In fact, you can apply for this official document directly online nowadays and it will only take a few minutes of your time.

The only things you need for an online ESTA application are as follows:

  • Information concerning you and the other visitors accompanying you.
  • Your passport number.
  • A method of payment (Ideally a credit card).


You therefore need to complete a simple online application form by replying to a list of questions that have the aim of stating the reasons for your trip, the duration of your stay and registering you for the American Immigration authorities.

Once your application has been made you will be obliged to make a payment to cover administration costs and will receive, a few hours of a few days later, your official ESTA authorization, directly by email. You can then print your ESTA authorization document so you can present it, if required, to the appropriate American authorities.


What is the processing time for an official ESTA application document?

Once you have completed the ESTA application questionnaire, when you have checked and confirmed the information on it and completed the payment, the American immigration authorities will study and verify your application, point by point, paying particular attention to the truth of your answers and the adequacy of your application relating to a travel authorisation.

The response to your application will be sent to you within a maximum of 72 hours although most of the time a response will be received within just a few minutes. This extremely short and rapid processing time is due to the fact that the applications are created online and initially checked using software.

However even though you need only a few days to obtain your official ESTA document to travel to the United States we strongly recommend that you complete this procedure several weeks before your departure date. This is because in the case whereby your application is refused this will ensure you have time to create a new application respecting the minimum time delay between the forms or apply for a standard visa which entails a longer procedure, whichever may be necessary.


What to do if you haven’t received the official ESTA document following your application?

If you have still not received a response by email within 72 hours indicating the acceptance or refusal of your official ESTA application then there could be several explanations for this:

  • The first is extremely simple; the majority of email from unknown senders is automatically filed in the spam folder of your email address inbox.
  • Another explanation relates to the non-payment of the costs and fees inherent in the examination of your application that should be paid at the end of the procedure to ensure the transfer and submission of your application.
  • Finally, maybe the email address that you stipulated in your application is not correct and therefore you have been unable to receive this reply.

In the case whereby your official ESTA document cannot be found in your spam folder it is possible to recreate the procedure from the start. You will then receive a rapid response.  


Is there another way to apply officially for an ESTA apart from online?

The ESTA system was specially created to simplify the procedure for residents from certain countries to visit the United States. It only works online, through the submission of a digital or electronic form. It is therefore impossible to obtain this form on paper and send it by normal mail.

If you do not wish to complete this procedure through the internet but still wish to visit the United States then the only other solution is to apply for a traditional visa through the American Embassy in your home country. You can then apply physically, in person, but this procedure is generally far longer and more complicated.