For a few years now, staying in the USA for a short time has become child’s play. The American dream has become more accessible, thanks to the authorization put in place: the ESTA travel authorization.

United States stay
United States stay

Is the ESTA application similar to that for a b2 tourist visa for the USA? We answer this question by explaining what ESTA authorization is.

Focus on the ESTA before applying

To travel to the USA, travelers need to obtain a travel authorization. Without this, it is impossible for them to board the plane or the boat in the direction of the United States of America.

Why was the ESTA authorization introduced?

The ESTA authorization was created in 2009 for one main reason: to strengthen American national security while maintaining tourist flows to the USA. The introduction of the Visa Waiver Program helped to relieve congestion in American embassies, while at the same time increasing the attractiveness of the United States as a tourist destination, but did not allow for effective screening of travellers before they arrived on American soil. With ESTA, it’s done.

Who can apply for an ESTA?

To make an ESTA order, you must check your eligibility for ESTA. Below are the eligibility criteria to be met:

  • be a citizen of one of the countries covered by the Visa Waiver Program;
  • have a valid electronic passport or biometric passport;
  • travel to the United States for tourism, business or transit;
  • not pose a threat to US homeland security;
  • stay in the USA for a maximum of 90 days.

How does ESTA USA work?

The ESTA is an electronic travel authorization, that is to say that it is electronically linked to the passport used during the application. Be careful therefore if you change your passport during the validity of the ESTA: a new ESTA request must be made with the new passport.

The authorization is valid for a maximum of two years. This validity may be less if your passport expires earlier. A valid ESTA allows you to make as many trips to the USA as you wish provided you comply with the terms of the ESTA as to the nature and duration of the stay. There is therefore no need to order an ESTA for each stay in the United States.

Travel to USA
Travel to USA

How to proceed with the ESTA authorization request?

The steps to complete an ESTA application are relatively simple, especially if we compare them with those for obtaining a US visa, which notably requires an interview with a consular officer at the US Embassy.

Applying for ESTA does not require any travel. Simply complete this request online by completing the ESTA form. This online form takes more or less time to complete depending on the site where you place an order.

The ESTA application on the official website of the American government

If you do not want to go through an intermediary for your ESTA application, you can complete the questionnaire yourself online by going to the US government website. Several sections must be completed. The first part is devoted to your personal information (identity, job, valid passport, etc.), the second is intended to understand your travel motivations and to obtain information on an emergency contact, for example. Finally, the third part is totally devoted to the background, whether legal or medical. As on a private site, it is the payment of the ESTA request that validates your order.

ESTA status following an online request

Completing the ESTA form is not a guarantee of obtaining it. Your ESTA application may be accepted, put on hold or refused. The response can be immediate or communicated within 72 hours.

An accepted request of course authorizes travel to the United States. A pending request requires patience since a definitive answer will be given later (within 3 days maximum). A refused request puts the traveler in a slightly more complex situation. If the request is rejected due to an input error in the request form, a new attempt can be made within 10 days. If the refusal is justified by non-compliance with an eligibility criterion, a visa application to the American consular services is required.

Can I travel to Canada or England with ESTA authorization?

The ESTA is a U.S. authorization that allows entry only to U.S. territory. To enter Canada, you must first obtain an eTA Canada authorization. Like the ESTA, it can be easily obtained online. European countries have also introduced an electronic travel authorization system.

The British launched their eTA for the UK in 2024. This electronic travel authorization can also be obtained 100% online.

All these administrative procedures enhance security and facilitate the flow of tourists around the world.