ESTA in transit: Do I need an ESTA if I am in transit?

esta in transit

Do you have a trip planned with a stopover in the USA? In that case, you’re sure to be wondering what documents you’ll be needing for a US transit.

Luckily for many, since the ESTA visa waiver became available in 2009, all eligible foreign nationals can now use the ESTA for transit through the USA and do not need to worry about obtaining a special US transit visa or applying via the embassy or consulate. Read on to find out how to apply and for other useful information for connecting travel in the US.

How to Apply for a Transit ESTA?

Firstly, as the ESTA is valid for transit through the US, all applicants must ensure they are eligible to apply for the ESTA registration online by checking the necessary requirements.

Applying online for an ESTA visa waiver is a quick and simple process which requires each applicant complete an online form with personal details, travel information including passport data and answering some basic security questions. It is important to have your biometric passport on hand when filling out your in transit ESTA application to ensure all the information entered in the application matches exactly the details in your passport as any errors here could cause problems with the application.

Also when completing the ESTA for transit application, an area that sometimes confuses travelers is the question: Is your travel to the US occurring in transit to another country? It is imperative that all questions are answered truthfully and as accurately as possible therefore here indicate ‘yes’ to this question if you have a connecting flight in the US and your final destination is a different country.

The US Government and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who manage the ESTA scheme, strongly recommend applying for the ESTA visa waiver at least 72 hours before departure as it can take up to 3 days to receive the approved ESTA, although mostly it is a very speedy process and is usually granted within a few hours.

ESTA visa waiver for US stopovers

Whether in transit to another country through the USA or returning home with a stopover in America, you will need to apply for a US transit visa in the form of an ESTA.

The definition of ESTA for transit is the Electronic System of Travel Authorization which is a visa waiver designed to allow eligible foreign citizens to enter the US as many times as necessary in a period of 2 years. Each time the traveler enters the USA, they are permitted to stay as long as 90 days but for transit it can be as short as a few hours. The ESTA is available for tourism, business or transit purposes.

The ESTA program began in 2009 as a way of simplifying and facilitating the system of applying for a tourist, business or transit visa for the US for those nationals who are from the 38 eligible Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries.

Among the 38 VWP countries, for those who travel often or send the most tourists, there is the ESTA for UK citizens and the ESTA for Australian citizens as well as being available for citizens from Ireland, New Zealand and much of Europe.

Now you have all the information you need to apply for your transit visa through US, you can get on to planning your next trip and be sure to count on the ESTA visa whether you decide to travel to another country with a stopover in America or visit the vast and diverse US of A.