If you are planning a trip to the United States, if you are from a country that has a visa waiver you will still have to apply for something called an ESTA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This should be done several days before you plan on traveling to the United States, so you have plenty of time to get approval.
Here are some tips to help make applying for an ESTA just that little bit easier.
Get all the information you need in advance — Before sending off an application, make sure you have everything you need with you in advance. This includes your passport, your employer’s address and phone number, your emergency contact’s personal information and, of course, the address of the place you will be staying when you are in the United States.
Your credit card — You can also pay for an ESTA either with your credit card or with PayPal or a bank account. Make sure you have your credit card at the ready as well, as all of this can be done on the Internet if you do.
Be completely honest about the information you submit — The U.S. government checks information that is submitted to them on an ESTA application. That is why you need to be completely honest about everything you submit, including your employer, your income, your emergency contact and about the place you are staying while in the U.S. If you are going to be traveling around, make sure you book hotels in advance as much as possible, so that all this information can be submitted with the ESTA.
After all, the U.S. government just wants to make sure you are not an undesirable person and that you do not plan on staying illegally in the U.S. Having bookings are hotels will prove that neither of these things is the case.
Do not apply too soon — While some people apply for their U.S. ESTA weeks before they leave on their trip, it is not recommended that you do this. Once granted an ESTA, it will be valid for two years from the date that it is issued. As you have to pay for the application, there is no reason to waste several weeks of that two years by applying too early and, thus, having an ESTA for a period of time you will not be visiting the United States.
How long does it take to get approval for an ESTA? — One of the reasons why it is not recommended to apply for your ESTA too soon is because approval or denial is extremely fast. In most cases, once you submit the application, you will find out within 24 hours whether you have been approved or denied.
That is why you can submit an ESTA application just a few days before you leave for the United States, then your ESTA will be new when you get there and still have almost two years left on its valid usage.