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ESTA - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

ESTA stands for the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation and is a requirement for travel to the USA for anyone travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme.

From 9th July 2009 the ESTA replaced the green I94W form which previously, was issued by the airline and shipping lines and completed prior to arrival in to the USA. Whilst initially free of charge, since September 8th 2010 a charge of $14 has been introduced. Once approved the ESTA will last for two years providing an individual' s passport does not expire within the two year period. If a new passport is issued, then it is necessary to obtain a new ESTA and a further charge of $14 will be levied.

On very rare occasions, if the electronic system is unavailable for any reason, an I94W form would need to be completed and in this case you would be directed to do so.

Airlines are enforced by financial penalty to require a valid ESTA at check in and they are able to check this electronically.

When applying for an ESTA travellers are required to go online and submit their application a minimum of 72 hours (3 days) before they need to answer the US. ESTA is not available to any travellers who do not meet the requirements to travel under the visa waiver programme and any such individual needs to apply for a visa at the US embassy ( in London or Belfast for UK citizens)

To apply for your ESTA you will need to visit the US Customs and Border Protection site and follow the steps outlined there. You will need to have your passport to hand and also your method of payment. This must be MasterCard, Visa American Express or Discover. No alternative methods of payment are accepted.

Once you have completed and submitted your application you will record your application number and make your payment. Approval is usually instantaneous, but, on occasions, it may take two or three days, in which case you will be able to view your application status online using your application number. Because of the potential for delay in approval it is best to apply for your ESTA at the earliest opportunity.
Your ESTA application and approval are retained somewhere in cyberspace and you should never need to produce a hard copy, however, there have been cases of misspelling on passenger lists and it is a good idea to print a copy of your ESTA approval and carry it with you when you travel.

Should you wish to update your ESTA with details such as flight number or address within the USA you will need your application number. If you are unable to find this there is a section on the ESTA website where you can retrieve your application number by giving personal and passport details. This having been said it is not strictly necessary to update these details every time you travel.

Reminders that an ESTA is expiring are issued 30 days prior to their expiry provided you have given an email address with your application.

Whilst the ESTA replaces the need to complete an I94 W paper application, it is still a requirement for all persons entering the US to fill in a customs form.

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