Travelling to the USA: Don’t forget to complete your ESTA before you travel

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Apply for your ESTA before you travel to America. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The United States has a lot to offer travelers - world-class sites, top-notch accommodation and superb dining options. 

From the big cities to coastlines, there is a diversity of destinations to visit – you might find it hard to choose where to go! 

Like anywhere, to get the most out of your USA trip you should plan in advance. However, there are a few extra steps particular to America that you must complete.

Chiefly, applying for your Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) if you are eligible for it, before you go.  

What is an ESTA?  

Most people will need to have a visa to enter the States. However, you may be able to apply for an instead, under America’s Visa Waiver Programme.   

Citizens of many different countries are eligible to apply, including those from Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand. 

Apply for an ESTA USA online, and before you go. The ESTA fee should be around £9 and is payable on application. 

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What are the requirements?  

You must have a valid e-passport and you must not overstay your 90-day in-country limit. You also will not be able to renew your ESTA when America.  

It is recommended that you submit your ESTA application at least 72 hours before you leave, however if you have a criminal record, health issues or any other issue that you think may complicate your application, allow more time. 

You will also need to show a return ticket.  

Can I be refused an ESTA?  

You may be refused an ESTA if you have previously overstayed your American visa or ESTA, you have dual nationality, or have visited Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan or Syria, or if you have an infectious disease.