How long does it take to obtain an ESTA authorisation?

How long does it take to obtain an ESTA authorisation?

A trip to the United States, even for just a few days, should be planned in advance for a number of reasons. The first is of course relative to organising your stay itself, and the second, that you have all necessary documents and authorisations to visit the USA including the famous ESTA. Here we offer you information on the time required to obtain the ESTA to ensure you can enjoy your visit in peace.


What is the response delay from the American authorities?

Once you have duly completed your ESTA authorisation application form online you will need to submit and validate it by paying for the administrative fees. It is only when you have paid these fees that your application is sent to the American authorities responsible for studying your application.

The maximum time taken for the processing of your application and therefore the response time is 72 hours from the time of payment. Of course the time taken is often less and you could receive your authorisation in only a few hours by email.

However if for one reason or another your application is refused you should know that you will need to wait for at least 10 days before reapplying for your ESTA. It is therefore recommended that that you start the ESTA procedure at least two weeks before your departure date.


What should I do if I haven’t received my ESTA in time?

If you have followed the advice as above then you should receive your ESTA authorisation within the time period. If this is not the case then you may possibly have made an error when you completed the application form.

It is therefore recommended to confirm that the payment for the administrative fees has been validated by your bank if you paid by credit card or bank transfer, or that your cheque has been received by the beneficiary. It is in fact not recommended to use the latter form of payment as it can be long and less secure.

Or maybe you just simply forgot to submit your application form. In this case you should return to the website where you completed it and complete the procedure.


Advice summary to obtain an ESTA within the time period:

To avoid having to delay your travel plans due to the non arrival of your ESA authorisation within the stipulated time follow this advice:

  • Begin the ESTA authorisation application procedure at least two weeks before your departure ensuring you have your biometric or electronic passport close to hand.
  • Ensure you have carefully read and submitted your application form.
  • Favour payment by credit card as processing is faster and more secure.
  • Check that the sum paid has been debited from your bank account.
  • Finally, if you have missed out one of the steps cited above, do not waste any time, restart the ESTA application procedure from the beginning, unless you already have an ESTA reference number.


The validity period of your ESTA authorisation:

As you will discover, the time required to obtain your ESTA authorisation is extremely short and in general it only takes a few hours before your receive your ESTA authorisation response by email. But the time taken for its authorisation and the time it can be used for should not be confused.

In fact, once you have obtained your ESTA authorisation you will be able to use it for a period of two years for one or several visits to the United States as the ESTA scheme has a validity period of two years for this travel authorisation with the same conditions valid for one or several visits.

This means that your ESTA is automatically linked to your biometric or electronic passport for a period of two years from obtaining it. It is however necessary that the information you have given in your application form during its completion is still valid at the time of your visit or visits. Therefore, if you change your identity, address or passport number then you will need to reapply for an ESTA authorisation to be able to travel to the USA, even if the validity period is still current.


When is the best time to make an ESTA application:

We have indicated above that the ESTA application receives a response within a maximum of 72 hours following the confirmation of your application. However, if your application is refused you will need to reapply online respecting the 10 day delay relating to its initial refusal. In certain cases you will have to apply for a traditional visa which can take much longer.

To avoid these possibilities we recommend that you complete your ESTA application at least one month before your departure date for the United States in order to facilitate the preparations for your visit.

Online ESTA application form