ESTA: Entering the USA without a visa

Since the introduction of ESTA, traveling to the USA has become much easier. You no longer need a visa for your trip to the States. However, you must meet specific requirements to get an ESTA travel authorization.

What is ESTA?

If you want to set foot in the USA but don't have a Green Card or US citizenship, the convenient ESTA authorization will always be your first choice.

The term ESTA stands for "Electronic System for Travel Authorization." People from the 41 participating countries of the "Visa Waiver Program" can travel to the USA with the help of this computer-based system without having to apply for a US visa.

Visa Waiver Program
The 41 countries participating in the program include Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Taiwan.

ESTA advantages

Preparing for USA vacations lasting up to 90 days means less effort and costs since ESTA was introduced in 2008. Instead of $ 185 for a visa, you now only have to invest just under € 50 (or $ 21 if you waive all the collateral and the money-back guarantee) for your travel permit.

The short wait times also make ESTA convenient: instead of 15 days or longer for a visa, it's now a maximum of 72 hours. Also, the interview appointment at the US embassy or consulate, which is necessary for a visa, is not required for the ESTA application.

You may repeat your maximum 90-day ESTA trip to the United States as often as you wish within the 2-year validity period. However, make sure that there are sufficient intervals between the trips so that the US border officials do not suspect that you are planning to immigrate. Otherwise, your ESTA travel privileges may be quickly terminated.

Who can apply for an ESTA?

You can only get an ESTA under certain conditions. Apart from your personal ESTA eligibility (see ESTA requirements), the purpose of your trip plays a major role.

With ESTA, you are allowed to:

  • take a vacation in the USA
  • participate in private events or competitions
  • meet business partners for consultations or negotiations
  • attend conferences or recreational studies and training (unless they officially count towards your degree)
  • get medical treatment in the USA
  • pass through the USA on your way to another country (transfer).

For all other travel purposes, such as working in the USA, studying, attending school, interning, or staying in the USA privately for more than 90 days, you must apply for a matching US visa.

ESTA Requirements

In addition to the purpose of your trip to the US (private or short business trip), there are other requirements for an ESTA travel authorization. These relate not only to citizenship in one of the visa waiver countries but also to certain events in your curriculum vitae.

The screening of your person by the US government is to ensure the internal security of the USA. Therefore, it is very likely that your ESTA application will be rejected if you answer "yes" to any of the nine (sometimes very personal) questions about your health, past criminal offenses, illegal stays in the USA, or travel to "critical" countries.

Nevertheless, you should always answer truthfully in your ESTA application because false statements (and unfortunately also accidental mistakes) will disqualify you from the ESTA process without exception and for life.

Applying for an ESTA

It will take you a maximum of 15 minutes to fill out the ESTA application. Have the following data ready:

  • your valid biometric passport (e-passport)
  • a valid email address
  • your first accommodation address in the USA (if it is not a transfer)
  • your employer's contact information (if any)
  • an overview of your social media profiles (if any)
  • emergency contact information (e.g., a parent or friend)

No later than 72 hours after applying, you can access the decision on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. Alternatively, you will receive an email from your ESTA online service provider if you have opted for additional security options.

Don't panic: If your application is rejected, it’s not the end of the world. You can still apply for a US visa. However, you can and should minimize the risk of an ESTA rejection by not making any mistakes in your application and by always telling the truth.

Are you insecure about some of the questions? Then take the precaution of consulting an ESTA expert.

ESTA – visa-free to the USA

With an ESTA, you can stay 90 days visa-free in the USA. Apply online now!

When do I have to submit the ESTA application?

It is best to apply for your ESTA at the beginning of your travel planning to be absolutely sure. However, the US authorities usually only need 72 hours to approve an ESTA application.

However, we recommend that you apply for the ESTA at least 6 weeks before your trip so that you still have enough time to apply for a US visa in case of a rejection.

What does an ESTA application cost?

At the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an ESTA travel authorization without guarantees or assistance costs $ 21 per person.

However, for a little more money (from € 49,90), you can have your ESTA application done by an expert to prevent rejection and blocking due to formal errors or technical and organizational difficulties.

ESTA application: With or without an agency?

In the ESTA process, you can get help from an agency. They are responsible for ensuring that your application is not rejected unnecessarily due to typing or input errors, and protect you from a lifelong ESTA ban. The advantages of ESTA agencies at a glance:

ESTA process Without agency With agency
Completing the form Website with technical and textual hurdles Simplified data entry, well explained
Contact person Not available Multilingual team of ESTA experts
Thorough application review Not available Careful review, follow-up questions on critical or unclear input
Changing entries at a later date Not possible Possible in the customer account or together with the customer support
Started applications Automatic deletion after 7 days Are kept until the application is complete
Travel documents Will not be provided ESTA confirmation for travel documents by e-mail
Money-back guarantee Not provided Provided
Reminder service for deadlines Not provided Provided
Price $ 21 starting at € 49.90 
Payment methods Credit card, PayPal Credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, iDEAL

If you decide to use the ESTA services at If you choose to use the ESTA services at, they will provide you with government-licensed US travel and emigration consultants. Have you already packed your bags? Then we wish you a great trip to the USA!


ESTA – visa-free to the USA

With an ESTA, you can stay 90 days visa-free in the USA. Apply online now!