ESTA for Children

do children need an ESTA

International visitors planning to enter the U.S. should learn about their visa, ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) or another type of travel authorization, required of all non-immigrants. Foreign minors are required to hold an authorization too. One of the most common questions comes from parents asking:“Does my child need an ESTA? It’s still a baby.” This article aims at sharing all relevant information for families who wish to travel to the U.S. together with ESTA.

ESTA Is Required for Children of All Ages

Adults, children as well as infants are required to have a valid ESTA, when traveling to the United States for short periods of time, if citizens of a visa waiver country. This is regardless of their age. Children traveling for periods or purposes other than those covered by ESTA may have to obtain a visa.

Children and adults of all ages must have their own travel authorization, in order to enter the United States. This is one of the most important requirements, set by the Customs and Border Control of America.

Applying for travel authorization is a legal requirement and it must be met by everyone, planning to visit the States, regardless of their age. Additionally, the same requirement is valid for those individuals who have a transferring flight through the U.S.

How Can I Obtain ESTA for My Child?

The application procedure on behalf of a third person is the same as applying for oneself. The difference is that in this case the adult, applying for their child, must specify their relation to the main applicant, during the application process.

For such cases it is recommendable to submit your ESTA application and the one of your child through the same web page and, if possible, at the same time.

Thus, the Border Protection authorities will have access to your family’s entire application. This may facilitate the process. What is more, making an application together may result in receiving the approval at the same time, which is more convenient for traveling.

Can I make an application on behalf of my kid?

All travelers to the U.S. are required to have valid legal authorization to enter the country.

In some cases, an application can be made on behalf of a minor child. To do so, applicants should check the second option, part of the Waiver of Rights section, stating “For third parties submitting the application on behalf of the applicant…”.

By selecting this option, the primary candidate understands the terms and conditions of ESTA USA, on behalf of the minor child. He/she must answer all questions and statements truthfully and honestly.

Note: All applicants are required to have an independent ESTA authorization. To get one, they must hold their own passport, which must be machine readable. This applies to adopted children too.

Therefore, children listed on their parents’ passport will not qualify for ESTA. Parents and legal guardians should request a machine-readable passport for their children well in advance of their trip.

Legal guardians/parents applying on behalf of a minor child must understand the ESTA eligibility requirements. If the dependent child is not from a visa waiver country, he/she will not be eligible to apply for ESTA. ESTA requirements for children (natural and adopted) are the same as those for adults.

Furthermore, if the applicant’s spouse does not have a valid visa or ESTA travel authorization to enter the U.S., the main applicant may also apply on their spouse’s behalf.

Step-by-Step Guide to Apply for an ESTA for a Child

Obtaining an ESTA for a minor is quite straightforward and the application can be completed in minutes. Simply:

  • Fill out a separate online form for your child in all of its parts. As explained above, check the Waiver of Rights section
  • Upload relevant documents such as a copy of your child’s passport
  • Pay the application fee by credit or debit card online. Each application must be paid for separately

The whole process can be completed from anywhere in the world. The approved ESTA registration(s) will be sent via email at the address you provided in the application form.

The fact that the minor is adopted will not affect the application. Should the minor’s application be rejected, parents will have to help the child(ren) obtain a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Traveling to the U.S. on an ESTA with Children

Most ESTA applications are approved within hours, although it is always advisable to request an ESTA at least 72 hours prior to departure. Once the approved authorization is issued via email, visitors can get their family ready to travel.

Remember to bring:

  • The machine-readable passports that were used during the application. This is extremely important since the ESTA is electronically linked to the passport, should this be different from the one used in the ESTA request, the passenger may be denied entry into the U.S
  • A copy of the approved ESTA authorizations
  • Documents proving the adoption or legal guardianship (if applicable)

At the airport or border, simply present these documents to the American authorities.

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