According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system that assists in determining eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of your ESTA application, you will be notified of your eligibility to travel to the U.S. under the VWP. The VWP is administered by the Department of Homeland Security and enables eligible citizens of designated countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa.
To apply for an ESTA, you will visit the official ESTA website. The website provides a 7-step application process that includes:
Entering applicant information
Entering personal information
Entering travel information
Answering eligibility questions
Reviewing your application
Paying the $21 application fee.
To apply, you will need a valid passport from a VWP country, a valid email address, your home address and phone number, and an emergency point of contact phone and email. Aliases or other names, national ID or personal ID number, employer address and phone number, and U.S. point of contact name, address, and phone number may also be required.
After you enter the required information on the secure web site and pay the fee, your application will be processed by the system to determine if you are eligible to travel to the U.S. without a visa under the VWP. The system will provide you with an automated response and a carrier will electronically verify with the United States Customs and Border Protection that you have an approved travel authorization on file.