From 01 August 2008, Application for an Authorization to Travel to the United States (ESTA) will be accessible via the internet and is recommended that customers apply for it on a voluntary basis to familiarise themselves with the new system.
Customers travelling to the USA will need to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) prior to their journey with minimum of 72 hours before departure.
From early 2009 it will be compulsory for customers travelling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) no later than 72 hours prior to departure.
This online form will replace the green visa waiver form (I94W) which is currently completed whilst en-route to the US. Customers should visit the website https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov and fill in the required information. In most cases a response will be received within seconds determining whether travel to the US has been authorised. If the application is not authorised then a visa may be requested through the US Embassy. In some instances customers will need to wait up to 72 hours for authorisation.
An approved travel authorisation is valid for two years for multiple entries into the US although a new application will have to be made if a new passport is obtained within the two year period or if the answers to any of the YES/NO questions on the ESTA form change.
With effect from 8 September 2010, all ESTA applications will be subject to a fee of $14. ESTA is in addition to the requirement for all customers to submit APIS data.