Is an ESTA required in transit?

To travel to the USA, a foreign national must imperatively apply for a travel authorization. He can choose between the American visa or the ESTA USA, which is intended for nationals of the 40 countries that are members of the Visa Waiver Program.

You want to go to Cuba, Mexico, Canada, etc. but must transit on American territory? Are you wondering if you need to obtain an ESTA authorization to carry out this transit? Answer in this article.

Esta USA travel authorization
Esta USA travel authorization

Do I need an ESTA document for a stopover?

It is understandable to wonder if the ESTA is necessary when you are not leaving the airport. However, for obvious security reasons, the US government requires travelers in transit to have an authorization. In fact, airlines and shipping companies will likely deny you access to boarding without proper travel authorization.

To benefit from an ESTA authorization, we remind you that foreign nationals must meet certain conditions:

  • be a national of a country that has signed the Visa Waiver Program;
  • have a biometric passport or an electronic passport;
  • travel by air or sea to the United States of America;
  • going on a business trip, tourist trip or transit;
  • go to the USA for a maximum of 90 days;
  • not represent a danger to the internal security of the United States.

Obtaining an ESTA for transit

Any stay in the USA requires you to have an authorization in your possession and transit is therefore no exception. The ESTA application for a transit or for a stay in the USA is the same. To apply, you are asked to complete the ESTA form, which is an online form found on the official US government website. If you want assistance, opt for the simplified form of a private site.

One of the fields of the form relates to the reason for your stay in the USA. The choice is therefore yours to opt for a transit or a stay. Since the ESTA is valid for 2 years (if the validity of your passport allows it), we recommend that you select “stay” and thus take full advantage of your ESTA.

The electronic systems of the American authorities analyze your file and provide you with a very quick response. Indeed, you receive a return within 72 hours maximum.

If you cannot receive an ESTA for your transit, do not give up, there is a specific American visa for this type of trip. This is the C1 visa, please contact the American embassy to obtain it.