Important Changes to the VISA Waiver Programme

Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)

US Customs and Border Protection and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have introduced ESTA, allowing nationals of eligible VWP countries to apply for advance authorisation to travel to the United States. With effect from 12th January 2009, all VWP travellers will be required to obtain an electronic travel authorisation through ESTA, prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States.

ESTA is a web based system and will replace the paper I-94W form (green card). ESTA applications must be submitted no later than 72 hours prior to travel and, in most cases, applicants will be provided with an immediate response.

Approved travel authorisation via ESTA is required for all VWP travellers and is valid for up to two years, or until the expiry of the travellers passport (whichever comes first). The authorisation will be vaild for multiple entries into the United States.

After 12th January 2009, any VWP traveller who has not applied for, and received, authorisation via ESTA may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing or be denied admission at a US port of entry.

As of the 9th September 2010, the US Government will be charging passengers to apply for their ESTA, currently the charge will be  $14 per person. Once you have obtained the ESTA, it is valid for 2 years.

If you cannot obtain authorisation via ESTA, you will be required to obtain a nonimmigrant visa at a US Embassy or Consulate prior to travel.

Eligible Countries

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom

ESTA will enhance the security of the VWP and enable the United States to maintain and expand participation in the program. If your country is not listed above, please check the ESTA website to check the current status.

Websites

Additional Information:  www.cbp.gov/esta and www.CBP.gov

Applications: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov

Information supplied by the US Government under CBP Publication No. 0000-0717; June 2008. All information is subject to change by the US Government