ESTA (short for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) is a computerised system that facilitates entry to the USA under the US VWP (Visa Waiver Program).
If you are a national of a country that participates in the US visa-free program and want to travel to the country for a business commitment or tourism purposes, you do not need a visa to gain entry into the US, provided you intend to stay in the country for no more than 90 days. You will, however, need ESTA, for which you can fill out an online application. If it is your first time filling out an ESTA application, here are a few tips to help make your first experience smooth and successful.
Ensure timely submission of application
One of the foremost aspects you need to consider is the timely submission of your ESTA application. It may take up to 72 hours for your application to be scrutinized and approved. So, if you submit an application on the day of travel or even 24 hours prior, the approval may not come through in time. Hence it is always better to apply well ahead of time or at least three days before your travel date.
Make sure all documents are in order
When you are filling out the application, make sure you have your valid passport at hand. If your passport is near expiry or has less than six months remaining, you must renew your passport in time and make sure to have an e-passport.
Enter correct information
When filling out the application form, ensure to enter the correct information that you will not need to change at a later date. Once you have submitted the application, you will only be able to change the email Id and address of where you may be staying in the US. If there are any other changes that you need to make, you will have to reapply for ESTA.
Keep a printout of the application with you
When your application is approved, keep the number safe with you. Officially, you may not be required to keep a printout of the application with you, but some airlines may request you to present a copy of the approved ESTA application. Therefore it is better to keep a copy to be on the safe side. It may also come in handy if you need to change some information at a later stage.
Renew your ESTA in time
It is pertinent to keep in mind that your ESTA is valid for only two years. While you can travel to the US multiple times within this timeframe, you will need to renew your ESTA. You will also need to renew your ESTA if your passport expires or there is some change in the information to the security questions in the previous applications. So, if you plan a trip to the US, ensure all the requisite documentation is in order.