The United States is without a doubt an incredibly popular travel destination, with 50 states filled with historic landmarks, natural wonders, and world-renowned entertainment venues. It’s the land of the free, home of the brave, and the birthplace of milkshakes, after all! While folks around the world have certainly heard of the USA, not many have heard about the ESTA.
Newbie and experienced globetrotters alike will be faced with visa entry issues at some point in their jet setting career. It can’t be avoided. But, if you’re a wanderer headed to Uncle Sam, luckily there’s a little known way to experience America’s top destinations without a visa!
It’s called the ESTA (the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation).
The ESTA was established by the United States government after a recommendation from the Department of Homeland Security. It was created to enhance security and speed up processing times at the borders for tourists or businesspeople.
Citizens of 38 countries can apply for and use the ESTA. The application is easy, too. The process takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. The applicant receives a notification email within 72 hours once the application has been processed. You need an electronic passport and an internet connection to apply.
The ESTA Process:
You can expect to receive one of three types of notifications:
1. Authorisation approved
Pack your bags! You’re free to travel to the U.S.!
2. Travel not authorised
The ESTA has not been granted, but that doesn’t mean you can’t apply for a traditional visa!
3. Authorisation pending
Make sure to check on the status within another 72 hours since the decision has yet to be made.
Once you have the ESTA, you can travel to the U.S. an unlimited amount of times within two years. You’ll have plenty of time to take in the New York city skyline, indulge in all sorts of debauchery in Las Vegas, and hit the beach in San Diego. (Note: ESTA holders should not stay within the U.S. for more than 90 days per visit.)
There are more benefits to the ESTA programme, including the price tag. The cost is substantially cheaper – $14 USD to be precise. Not only are you saving time and effort, you’re also saving money. Who can say no to that?
Check out this YouTube video if you need further clarification on terms and conditions of the ESTA!
Now that you have the appropriate travel documentation, all that’s left to do is pick a destination and enjoy yourself in the United States.
Written by Josh Hobson, Guest Contributor