How to apply for an ESTA authorization to travel to the United States for the first time

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Applying for ESTA may be the first step in traveling to the United States. It is a relatively simple procedure valid for 38 countries (in 2019). In this post I am going to explain it easy, simple and summarized how to do it in addition to clearing up the main doubts.

What is ESTA travel authorization?

It is an authorization process to travel to the USA with a fully automated system. Basically, it makes it easier for us, as travelers, to enter the United States, managing it completely online. This is an automated authorization system to enter the Visa Waiver program (technically this is a visa waiver). To explain it more simply, we complete a series of data in an online form, send the request, and expect a response that usually does not take longer than 72 hours, time to confirm whether or not we are authorized to travel to the U.S.. However, this method of applying for authorisation is not suitable for all countries.

Which countries or nationalities can use this procedure?

This point is essential, because the Visa Waiver program applies to only a few countries. It is available for nationalities of 38 countries at the time of writing. These are: from Latin America, it is only possible for Chile, while for Europe it is possible for the entire western part of the continent (this includes Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, England, Germany among so many, as well as Scandinavian countries). From Oceania it is possible for Australia and New Zealand, or in Asia for Japan and South Korea among others.

How long are we allowed to travel to the United States with ESTA authorization?

This authorization will allow us to enter the United States for 90 days within about two years. It is also important to know that it is not necessary to have defined our travel plan to start our process. Once we obtain the authorization (in the best of cases) we have two years to make our trip. Although we will see that in the forms we will be asked to specify a place to stay, this is not strictly necessary. However, it is advisable to have at least our first accommodation site in the United States to indicate this on the form.

How much anticipation do I need to process my ESTA?

The ESTA process to obtain a Visa Waiver is done up to a maximum of 72 hours before traveling (to board our plane).

And how long do I have to wait to get my ESTA authorization response?

In general, the process once we submit the forms takes no more than 72 hours to send us our answer. The answer will be obtained in our email address, along with the documents that we will need as proof of our procedure carried out. As you can see, everything will be quite agile and practical.

Is there advice on applying for the ESTA Waiver Visa?

There is nothing more than the information provided by the official website. However, there are companies that offer assistance in applying for authorization. That is to say, companies that will give us the advice to request the authorization, especially if they are individual presentations, as well as groups or companies. For example, companies such as provide help and assistance in the process, advising on how to fill in the data correctly, or providing advice, answering our questions and noting corrections before submitting the form. Finally we will receive the authorization by e-mail.

How and where do I fill out the form for my Esta application?

Puedes hacerlo en la web oficial para aplicar > Apply for ESTA

What are the essential requirements?

To summarize all that has been said so far, these are the essential requirements to apply for the Visa Waiver program:

To be a citizen of the countries eligible for the ESTA program, not to have a valid visa, to travel to the USA for less than 90 days, to travel for temporary activities (tourist or business trips), to have a valid passport from a country that is a member of the Visa Waiver program, to have a credit card to pay for the application (14 dollars). This amount will be refunded to our account if the request is disapproved.

And what is the difference between an ESTA authorization and a visa?

The differences are mostly in legal terms. An authorisation is basically not a visa, and therefore if our reason for travel is different from a business or tourist trip, it probably requires a visa, which has other legal implications.

In summary, the ESTA authorization is a quick procedure to obtain our permission to travel for pleasure or business to the USA if we reside in some of the 38 countries that have this procedure enabled. It is so practical that we can do it from home and receive our response in our email in relatively few hours. Once authorized, we might as well sit back and organize our trip to the United States (and start enjoying it).

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