Original document prepared by former Worldwide ERC® General Counsel Richard H. Mansfield III
Mansfield & Mansfield
Updated by Worldwide ERC® Government Affairs Adviser, Tristan North
Current as of January, 2017
The final rule for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) took effect on January 12, 2009, following which all visa waiver applicants must obtain ESTA authorization to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The VWP is administered by DHS and enables eligible nationals of member countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. VWP members are required to meet various security requirements, including enhanced law enforcement and security-related sharing with the United States. VWP members are also required to maintain high counterterrorism, law enforcement, border control, and document security standards. Currently, there are 38 countries that participate in the program including:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
As of September 2010, there is a $14 charge for the use of ESTA, collected by the airport in most cases.
ESTA is not needed when arriving by land from Canada or Mexico. Passengers (including young minors) (babies) without an ESTA may be denied to check in, although it is possible to get one while at the airport. Since 2010 the payment of $14 is required to obtain the ESTA.
Because the eligible countries and procedures change periodically, the latest information can be found at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/.