It has been quite some time since I have had to apply for an ESTA for travel to the United States. That’s the Electronic System for Travel Authorization that people from Visa waiver countries need to complete to visit the USA.

What you do is complete all your details on the ESTA website, and you should receive a travel authorisation back quite quickly. Without permission you will not be allowed to enter the country.

ESTA Costs and Questions

The price is rather small, at just US$14. You’ll pay more for any pre-departure tests you might need at the moment, what with the pandemic and all. Where you are declined permission, the fee is refunded, which is nice.

Questions comprise of the usual things, such as your Passport details, home address, work address and so on. You will also need to provide your emergency contact, and the contact of someone in the states. All of it is fairly straightforward stuff.

It also verifies your e-mail address during the process, which works flawlessly. Once complete – and it’s pretty foolproof – you get to what I call “the fun questions”.

For example, they ask if you have any physical or mental disorders. Have you been arrested or convicted of a crime? Violated any drug laws? Conducted any terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage or genocide?

Ever fraudulently obtained a US Visa? Are you looking for work in the USA or have previously worked there without permission? Been denied or overstayed your Visa?

Finally, have you ever travelled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011? I am guessing, but I believe if you answer yes to any of the above, you won’t get your ESTA and will need to present yourself at a US Embassy to apply for a visa in person.

Overall Thoughts

The ESTA process is quite similar to what other countries ask. Electronic visas save processing time at the airport for everyone involved, so it makes sense that people have to complete this. In the past, portions of these questions were on paper forms given to you on the plane, so it’s nice to keep away from that.

For me, my approval arrived within the hour, though it can be much faster. Mine usually takes a little longer as I have dual citizenship, but it’s no big deal.

Have you applied for an ESTA before? Do you find the process to be straightforward or a bit annoying? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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