How long is an ESTA valid for?

How long is an ESTA valid for?

If you plan to shortly take your first trip to the United States or visit the USA again then you should be aware that an ESTA authorisation, once obtained, can be used for a number of visits. However it is also important to understand that there is a difference between the duration and the time or validity period of this authorisation. To understand these different time periods and therefore best use your ESTA for one or several trips to the United States here are some practical explanations.

 

What is the validity period of an ESTA for a visit?

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization, the ESTA, was implemented in 2009 to enable citizens from program member countries to simplify the procedure necessary for obtaining a visa.

However this new system only functions under certain specific conditions. Therefore you can only use an ESTA authorisation to travel to the United States only if your planned stay is of less than three months. For a longer stay you will have to complete a different procedure to obtain a long stay visa.

You should understand that the length of your stay is limited to three months or 90 days, whatever the reason for your visit to the USA. You cannot stay for longer with an ESTA whether you are on holiday or visiting for business.

 

What is the validity period of an ESTA?

Although the period of stay authorised by an ESTA is 90 days, once this authorisation has been granted it can be used numerous times, in other words for several trips to the USA. The ESTA authorisation is actually issued for a two year duration. This means it is valid for two years from its date of issue (not from the date of your first trip).

If you have already obtained an ESTA authorisation for travel to the United States less than two years ago and you wish to return there for a visit then you do not need to recommence the complete ESTA application procedure.

In all cases, it is important to verify that none of your personal information has changed since your last visit. Notably if you have renewed your passport and it has a different number but also if other personal information has changed it is imperative that you update all relevant details on your ESTA document before reusing it.

After this period has ended, no trace will be kept by the American authorities of your previous travel authorisations.  You will therefore need to return to a website such as ours to make a fresh application by again completing and submitting the online questionnaire. Of course, all fees related to the application need to be paid again, even if none of your personal information has changed between times.

To summarise, it is important to carefully prepare for your next trip to the USA by taking into account the duration and validity period of your ESTA.

 

How do I know if my ESTA is still valid?

You are planning a further visit to the United States and you remember having already completed the application procedure for an ESTA travel authorisation a while ago? In this case you may not need to complete the ESTA authorisation application procedure online again. However, to ensure that your travel arrangements are problem free you should verify that your authorisation is still valid.

More precisely, the validity period of your ESTA should at least cover your departure date for the USA. But how do you know if your ESTA is still valid? There are several ways to find the answer to this:

  • You can consult your ESTA file by visiting the official American website using your file number. In this way you can also verify the current status of your authorisation and its validity period.
  • You can also check in your email inbox for the email that was sent to you granting your travel authorisation following your initial application. The date of this email corresponds to the start date of your ESTA validity period. Therefore you simply need to add two years to this date to obtain the expiry date of its validity.  

Unfortunately if you do not remember your ESTA number or you have lost it and deleted the confirmation email that you received following your initial application then you will need to reapply, even if your current ESTA authorisation is still valid.

 

When do you need to reapply for an ESTA that is still technically valid?

In certain situations an ESTA authorisation can still be valid relating to its validity period but will still need to be renewed. This mainly concerns changes in the information that was given during your initial application. You will therefore need to reapply if any of the following situations occurs:

  • If you have changed your passport and therefore your passport number as it is this number that is digitally linked to your ESTA authorisation.
  • You have changed your identity, name or have moved as well as any other change in the information given related to your identity or situation.
  • One of the answers given to the questions in the application form is no longer correct. All the questions are important when applying for an ESTA and the answers should therefore always be current and valid. In the case whereby there is a change it is necessary to update the information with a new application.
  • Finally, if you have changed your email address it will be necessary to change this information in your ESTA file, but without having to reapply for an authorisation.  

To reapply for an ESTA before the end of its validity period you will need to again complete the application form in its entirety and again pay all the fees and costs related to the transfer and processing of your application. The response will be sent to you by email within 72 hours.

Online ESTA application form