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Changes to US entry requirements

Effective from 20th January 2010, all US-bound air passengers from the UK must complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation form (ESTA), which takes up to 72-hours to be approved by the US Department of Homeland Security, giving flyers prior approval for entry to the United States.

Passengers without a valid ESTA will be refused travel to the USA.

The ESTA form must be completed online, and replaces the Green I-94 card, which passengers have previously filled in on their flight into the US under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) that allows eligible British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days.

The ESTA scheme was first introduced in January 2009, but from 20/01/2010 is now mandatory for all travellers.

To complete an ESTA form, you must apply online here

For more information visit:
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website

  • An ESTA once obtained will be valid for a period of two years, or the validity of the travellers passport (whichever is shorter).
  • At present, US authorities do not propose to levy a charge for this service, although they have reserved the right to consider doing so in the future.
    If you do not have Internet access a third party, such as a relative or travel agent, may apply for the ESTA for you.
  • Obtaining an ESTA should not be confused with the separate requirement, which will continue to apply, for you to provide your airline or carrier with details of your passport, country of residence and address of your first night's accommodation in the US.


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