Visa Waiver Program
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a mandatory pre-travel authorization program applicable to U.S. bound travelers of all ages from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries. Applicable travelers will be required to complete an online application similar to the I-94W and obtain an ESTA approval prior to boarding a carrier by air or sea to the United States under the VWP.
A third party, such as a relative or travel professional, will be permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler. The DHS recommends that an ESTA approval be obtained as soon as a VWP traveler begins to plan a trip to the United States, and no later than 72 hours before departure. Should the information you provided change after receiving your approval, updating your application online is easy. ESTA will determine almost immediately in many cases if an individual is eligible for VWP travel. Possible website responses include: Authorization Approved, Travel Not Approved, or Authorization Pending. In the event that an ESTA applicant is denied authorization to travel to the United States under VWP, he or she will be referred to U.S Department of State website for information on how to apply for a visa to travel to the United States. Applicants who receive an Authorization Pending response will need to check the website for updates within 72 hours to receive a final response.
An approved ESTA travel authorization is:
- Valid for up to two years or until the traveler's passport book expires, whichever comes first;
- Valid for multiple entries into the U.S. be it for business or pleasure; and
- Not a guarantee of admissibility to the United States at a port of entry. ESTA approval only authorizes a traveler to board a carrier for travel to the U.S. under VWP. In all cases, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers make admissibility determinations at U.S. ports of entry. (For additional information please visit "Know Before You Go" at the CBP.gov website). Guests who apply electronically will be required to present their ESTA authorization approval receipt in order to board the vessel on applicable voyages.
COUNTRIES PARTICIPATING IN THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.
Travelers from the VWP countries seeking to enter the United States will also be required to have a passport book in their possession. For passport requirements for Visa Waiver Program applicants visit the CBP.gov website Pre-Travel Authorization Program for U.S.-Bound Travelers from Visa Waiver Countries. This U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program has a mandatory effective date of January 12, 2009. On this date, subject to DHS modification, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) became mandatory, and all travelers, regardless of age, from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries will be required to complete an online application similar to the I-94W and obtain an ESTA approval prior to boarding a carrier by air or sea to the United States under the VWP-ESTA website.
VWP AND PASSPORTS
Travelers from VWP countries who wish to enter the United States are also required to have a passport in their possession. For passport requirements for VWP applicants, please visit "Pre-travel Authorization Program for U.S.-Bound Travelers from Visa Waiver Countries" at U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.