ESTA Requirements for Visiting Florida

esta florida

Florida, commonly referred to as the Sunshine State, is in the southeastern region of the United States. The most popular cities amongst tourists in Florida include Miami, known for its beautiful sandy beaches and excellent restaurants, Jacksonville, and Orlando.

Home to Walt Disney World Resort, Florida is an excellent choice for families with children whilst the state has 200 parks, forests, and wildlife refuges to be explored.

Passport holders from many countries can visit Florida without a visa provided they register with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to departure.

The essential ESTA visa waiver is obtained online and is fully electronic, with no need to attend an interview or present paperwork in person at an embassy or consulate.

Do You Need a Visa to Go to Florida?

Whether or not a foreigner requires a visa for Florida depends on their nationality. Passport holders from a country included in the United States Visa Waiver Program (VWP) can travel to Florida without a visa.

To do so, it is essential that they apply for ESTA online. The process is entirely electronic and just a few personal and passport details are needed to complete the form.

Citizens from nations not included in the VWP will need a U.S. tourist visa for Florida. The visa application process is more complex and includes additional supporting documentation and an interview at an embassy or consulate.

An ESTA visa waiver is valid for leisure and business trips to Florida as well as for medical purposes. In addition, ESTA is needed to transit through an airport in Florida en route to another country.

To enter the U.S. for other reasons, such as to work or study, a traditional American visa is required.

ESTA for Florida Requirements

To be eligible for a visa waiver, travelers must have the following:

  • A valid biometric passport from one of the VWP countries
  • An email address
  • A debit or credit card

In addition, applicants must meet all the ESTA requirements for the U.S. in order to be granted access to Florida. Certain safety and security criteria must be met to be granted a travel permit.

The aim of ESTA is to keep American citizens and visitors safe, anyone who does not meet the requirements, and therefore a potential security risk, will not be able to enter Florida legally.

Families should be aware that children need to be registered with ESTA before heading to the U.S too.

How to Apply for ESTA for Florida

Conveniently, the ESTA application is digital and can be applied for from home 24 hours a day.

Applicants are prompted to complete the online form with basic personal details and passport data, including:

  • Full name, as it appears on the passport
  • Date and place of birth
  • Contact details including email address
  • Employment information
  • Passport details: number, issue, and expiry date

It is essential that all the information is filled in correctly, any mistakes may lead to delays or even ESTA rejection.

Once the ESTA visa waiver has been approved, it is linked to the chip inside the applicant’s biometric passport and an email notification is sent.

How long can you stay in Florida with ESTA?

Travelers with an approved ESTA can stay in any of the 50 states in the U.S. for up to 90 days.

The permit is valid for 2 years from the approval date and can be used for multiple entries, it is possible to leave and reenter the U.S. as necessary whilst the permit and passport are valid.

There are penalties in place for people who overstay an ESTA. To remain in Florida for longer than 3 months on the same trip, an embassy visa is required.

Traveling to Florida with ESTA

The 2 main international airports in Florida are:

  • Orlando International Airport (IATA: MCO, ICAO: KMCO, FAA LID: MCO)
  • Miami International Airport (IATA: MIA, ICAO: KMIA, FAA LID: MIA)

Orlando International Airport is located 6 miles (10 km) from central Orlando. It’s Florida’s busiest airport handling more than 50.5 million passengers a year.

Miami International Airport is 8 miles (13 km) from downtown Miami and is Florida’s main airport for long-haul flights. It handles over 45 million passengers annually.

Both Orlando and Miami are good options for foreigners traveling with an ESTA authorization and entering the U.S. through an airport.

What to see and do in Florida with ESTA

With 90 days to discover the Sunshine State, visitors can enjoy much of what Florida has to offer. Florida is on a peninsula, surrounded on 3 sides by the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida.

As a consequence, Florida is one of the best states in the U.S. for beaches and water sports.

Some of the best beaches in Florida are:

  • Miami beach
  • Venice beach
  • Clearwater beach
  • Fort Myers beach

Florida is also known for its theme parks, Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando are 3 popular attractions for all the family.

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