Why is the ESTA file obligatory to visit the United States?
Since the September attacks, the security measures taken by the United States relating to entry onto American territory have been greatly improved. Due to this fact, and since 2010, it is necessary for all people wishing to travel to the United States, even for a short stay, to possess a travel authorisation, called an ESTA document. This procedure also avoids the necessity of applying for a formal standard visa.
If you do not possess the ESTA document, it will be not be possible for you to board a flight destined for the United States, whatever the state or city of arrival. Please note that even if you choose an air line that has not signed the VWP agreement that makes it impossible for a passenger without an ESTA to board a flight, you could still find yourself blocked at the border on your arrival at the airport. The American Immigration authorities will always request this document when you arrive at the airport. You can therefore understand why it is so important to have this document on you for your trip to the United States.
What to do in case of the loss of your ESTA file?
If through ill-luck you find out you have lost your ESTA file, you should know that according to current legislation you are authorized to submit a new application for this document. Of course, and with any renewal of an official paper, you should first supply a declaration of loss that can be done at any police station.
Furthermore, it is necessary that you remember the identification number of your first ESTA document obtained. If you completed your first procedures through a website, you should be aware that the customer service can assist you in finding this number if you didn’t note it somewhere safe. It is also possible to write to them to obtain assistance concerning the procedures to take for the renewal of your application.
Some advice to avoid the loss of your ESTA file:
As it is said, ‘prevention is better than cure’. Therefore to avoid any inconvenience when it is time for your departure, it is better to follow this basic advice:
- Firstly, printing your ESTA document will ensure that you can keep a copy in a safe place.
- Be sure to note the reference number of your document, this will enable you to easily prepare a new online application in case of loss.
The other cases in which you will need to reapply without having lost your ESTA:
As we have just explained it is not always necessary to renew your ESTA when you have lost your reference number or the confirmation email. However, in certain cases, even if you have not lost your ESTA reference, you will still need to complete a new application online.
It should initially be remembered that an ESTA authorisation is not valid for life, it is only valid for a maximum period of two years following its issue. Therefore when the expiry date is reached your ESTA is no longer valid. As you probably already know this authorisation cannot be renewed automatically or manually. After the two years of legal validity this authorisation simply disappears from the information that is electronically linked to your passport. It is therefore necessary to complete a new application for a travel authorisation online by repeating the entire application procedure again from the beginning. You cannot simply access your application online and modify certain information but will need to complete the entire application form again.
But here we are not referring to a single case whereby you need to renew your ESTA due to loss. In fact, you should be aware that if any of the information given in your initial application has changed then your ESTA will no longer be valid, even if it is still within the two year period of validity. This notably concerns a change of passport.
When you renew your passport, whether this is due to the expiry of your previous passport, its loss or theft, your new passport will have a different number than the previous one. Therefore your ESTA will not be linked to it. Consequently you will need to apply for a new travel authorisation stating this new passport number on your ESTA application form.
Other changes of information that require you to renew your ESTA even if you have not lost it relate to a change in identity (if the name was also modified on your passport and travel documents), a change in your address (even if you have moved to another address in the same country), as well as any change in your situation that entails a different response than that given to one of the questions asked on the online application form.
If you find yourself in any of these situations you will be required to reapply again online, repeating the entire ESTA procedure from the beginning to obtain your new travel authorisation. This will again be valid for a period of two years from the receipt of the confirmation email.
Of course, we advise you to take precautions by saving your reference number so you do not lose it, in this way you can access your application whenever you wish to. To do this you can print or archive your confirmation email or request a paper copy of your ESTA authorisation which will be sent to you by mail that you can file at your home and view at any time.