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Effective September 8, 2010, all Visa Waiver Program travelers must pay the $14 ESTA fees to cover travel promotion and operational cost when applying for ESTA. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel. Once approved, authorizations are generally valid for multiple entries into the U.S. for up to two years or until the applicant’s passport expires or other specific circumstances give rise to a need to reapply, whichever comes first. Travelers with an approved ESTA do not need to pay the ESTA fees when updating non-critical informaiton on an ESTA application. However, travelers with new passports and re-applying for an ESTA need to pay the ESTA fees. The fees are collected when travelers apply for the ESTA when they obtain an approval to travel to the United States under the VWP.
An ESTA became mandatory by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in January 12, 2009. This new online system is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and all nationals or citizens of VWP countries who plan to travel to the United States for 90 days or less for temporary business or pleasure under the VWP will need to receive an electronic travel authorization prior to boarding a U.S.-bound airplane or cruise ship.
How to Apply for ESTA:
Please see the following procedures before applying for ESTA and confirm the flow from application to the response. It is necessary to finish five steps to acquire the ESTA authorization. Please note that you have to pay the $14 ESTA fee before your application is processed. The response of the ESTA authorization is displayed in Step 5, please confirm you have completed up to Step 5.
Step 1: Complete Your Application
For visitors applying for a new travel authorization, please click "Apply" button on the bottom left. You need to enter all mandatory fields indicated by a red asterisk .
Step 2: Submit Your Application
This is to confirm the information you entered in Step 1. Please review carefully all your data is accurate. If you entered incorrect data you will see an error message in red. After reviewing all information, you need to enter your passport number for verification. Please enter the text from the image screen, then click "Apply" button.
Step 3: Record Your Application Number
Please record your Application Number or print this page. Your Application Number will be required if you need to check the status of a completed application at another time. Click the "Next" button for Step 4.
Step 4: Make Payment
Please click "Pay" button to proceed to the CBP Online Payment form. You will be required to enter your credit card information. All payment must be made by the following credit or debit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express and Discover including JCB (You may enter JCB card information after you click on Discover Icon).
Mandatory Fields are: Account Holder Fist and Last name, Billing Address, Country, Credit Card Type, Credit Card Number, Expiration Date, and Security Code. Please make sure that you entered the correct information and click "Submit Payment" button to complete Step 4.
Step 5: View Your Application Status
In most cases, you will receive one of three responses within seconds. If you receive "Authorization Approved", you can travel to the U.S. under VWP. The Application Number and its expiration will be printed. Please print this page(you don't need to show this page at a airport). If you receive "Authorization Pending", it means your application is under review. Please check the ESTA Web site for update within 72 hours to receive a final response. If you receive "Travel Not Authorized", you need to apply for a visa at a nearest Embassy or Consulate.
Here is the site for ESTA:
Note: You may have some difficulties if non-Windows operating system is used.
The Embassy is not able to check the status of an ESTA application or provide details about ESTA denials or resolve the issue caused by the ESTA denial. Travelers with general questions regarding the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, ESTA, can find answers to frequently asked questions on the Customs and Border Patrol Internet site at https://help.cbp.gov/app/home keyword ESTA. Travelers can also use this website to submit their own questions which will be answered by e-mail.
VWP travelers should be aware that unauthorized third-parties have established Web sites, which charge visitors seeking to travel to the US under the VWP for submitting ESTA applications to DHS on behalf of the traveler. These businesses and Web sites are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with DHS or the US Government. Use of a private service to apply for travel authorization via ESTA will not expedite the granting of approval. (More)
- News Release: DHS, CBP Announce Interim Final Rule For ESTA Fee (August 6, 2010)
- Frequently Asked Questions about ESTA
- News Release: CBP Reminds U.S.-Bound Travelers from Visa Waiver Program Countries to Complete Online Travel Authorization (January 19, 2010)
- ESTA information on CBP.gov
- ESTA Advisory Statement (2009) (PDF - 70kb)
Changes to ESTA
- Effective November 3, 2014, additional questions have been added to the ESTA application. For details, please see here.
ESTA Application Fee: 14 USD
- Effective September 8, 2010, travelers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries must pay 14 US Dollars when applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). For details, please see ESTA Fee FAQs.
- Does your passport meet with the VWP requirements? Please refer to the Visa Waiver Program Passport Requirements on the CBP website for details on passport requirements.
Taiwan participates in VWP
Beginning November 1, 2012, Taiwan passport holders will be eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for business or pleasure for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa, if certain requirements are met.
Taiwan VWP travelers are required to travel on a biometric Taiwan passport (called an e-passport) that was issued on or after December 29, 2008 and contains a National ID number. They then must apply and be approved for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before beginning travel. For more information, please visit http://www.ait.org.tw/en/vwp.html and http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html.