Passengers who are flying to the States, or transiting through the USA from 20 January will not be allowed onto their flight if they have not completed their US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (or ESTA), and received validation to travel, ABTA advised today.
Passengers must ensure that the number on the ESTA matches the number of the passport they’re using for that trip.
The application process takes 15-20 minutes to complete and authorisation is normally granted immediately, but may take up to 72 hours.
It’s recommended that you apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours in advance of your travel. Those making late bookings can still apply, but there is a risk you may not receive immediate confirmation.
The ESTA is valid for multiple entries to the US over a two year period. However, if the ESTA isn’t granted, you will need to apply for a visa which takes considerably longer.
The official ESTA website, for which there's no charge, is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. There are other seemingly official sites which do make a charge and these should be avoided.
Susan Parsons, ABTA’s Manager for Trade Relations said: “Ideally, you should complete an ESTA as soon as you book your trip to the US and not leave it until the last minute – when you may forget! If you turn up at the airport without a valid ESTA, you won’t be allowed on the plane.”