ESTA for UK citizens: Do UK citizens need a visa for USA?

us visa for uk citizens

The short answer is Yes! All UK citizens need an ESTA to travel to the USA! But what is it? Why is it important? And how can you get the ESTA for UK citizens? Well, it’s much easier than you may think! Read on to find out more about the process of obtaining the US visa waiver authorization, the visa requirements for UK citizens and how to apply for the ESTA from the UK.

What is the ESTA visa for UK citizens?

ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization and was first put into place in January 2009 for citizens of 38 different countries. It is a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) introduced as an alternative to a standard travel visa for visitors to the USA from certain countries, including the UK.

This means that if you’re planning your holidays in the US or you have a business trip lined up stateside you will need to apply for an ESTA before departing. Whatever the reason you’re travelling to the USA, as long as you have a valid electronic passport, are regarded as a British citizen and your trip does not exceed 90 days, you are eligible for the quick and easy ESTA online application.

Being able to apply online for the American visa for British citizens speeds up and facilitates the process immensely. After filling in an online form with your personal information and passport details as well as answering a few security questions and paying the application fee you will be sent the confirmed ESTA visa waiver by e-mail.

The ESTA program allows not only UK citizens but also foreign nationals from the 38 visa waiver countries to travel to and around the US for tourism, business, medical purposes or for transit for a maximum stay of 90 days from the date of entry. The ESTA validity period is 2 years.

It’s important to bear in mind that although the ESTA is valid for 2 years, you must consider certain aspects regarding the ESTA expiry date in case you need to renew your American visa waiver before travelling.

If you’re travelling to the USA from the UK for study, employment as foreign press, permanent residence or your trip is for a longer time period than the 90 days of validity, you must apply for a different visa from your local US embassy. This process tends to be more complicated with a longer waiting time, therefore it is preferable, where possible, to apply via the ESTA online application form available to all eligible British e-passport holders.

How can I apply for ESTA from the UK?

Instead of gathering up various travel docs for US holidays and sending off your passport for a visa for USA from the UK, applying for the US visa waiver program for UK citizens is now a much simpler process and can be done in under 10 minutes from the comfort of your own home.

Before beginning, the first step consists of confirming your eligibility: the applicant must have a valid UK e-passport. The e-passport includes an electronic chip which contains the same information that is detailed on the biographical page of your passport with special security features in order to ensure privacy protection and safeguard from identity theft, which allows the ESTA to be electronically linked to your identity document and therefore enable the ESTA user to travel without the need to print the visa waiver.

Once you’re sure you are eligible to apply, you can follow this simple 3-step process:

  1. With your e-passport in hand, you must access the online ESTA form in order to begin the application by filling in the personal details as well as the information from your passport in addition to answering the travel and security questions at the end.
  2. Once you have completed the ESTA application form, you will be redirected to the payment page where it is necessary to pay the application fee via credit or debit card.
  3. Finally, as simple as that, you will receive a confirmation e-mail once your ESTA application has been accepted by the US Department of Homeland Security.

And just like that, with your confirmed ESTA visa waiver for UK citizens, you’ll be ready to set off on your American adventure! It is important to note that the ESTA does not guarantee entry into the US but is a prerequisite for travelling and you will not be able to depart without it. So, don’t leave it too late and apply today for your ESTA visa waiver.

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