Travellers to The US Under VWP Need to Know the Application Fees and Validity of ESTA Authorization

ESTA became mandatory on 12th January 2009. American authorities voluntarily simplified this process to avoid paper application processing. Travellers who plan to visit the US under VWP [Visa Waiver Program] just need to fill an ESTA application form online on

How do you know that ESTA application got approved?

The American Immigration Authorities check the form and respond. Response for ESTA application forms are of three kinds.

  1. Authorization approved – It means the applicant can travel to the US under VWP.
  2. Authorization pending – The applicant will need to keep checking the website for 72 hours to get final response.
  3. Travel not authorized – Denied applicants will be informed to gain information about visa application for the US trip.

On approval, you will get an email, which includes a reference number make sure to print it out because you will find it useful to check status or update the application.

What is the ESTA application fee?

As per the Travel Promotion Act [2009] ESTA application fee is divided into two parts:

  1. Processing charges – $4
  2. Authorization charges – $10

How to pay?

Currently, all ESTA application payments go through credit or debit cards including VISA, Discover, MasterCard, and American Express. If third party is involved then CBP is not liable for their charges. Application does not get submitted until the payment is made. In case, your application times out in step 4 of application payment process then return in 7 days and complete the process. In case, you don’t pay in those 7 days then start new application process again.

What is ESTA authorization’s validity term?

Length of your stay to the United States is 90 days or 3 months but the validity of ESTA is for two years. You can visit a number of times within these 2 years from the date of issue. If your personal information has changed since last visit to the US like a new passport or different address then it is essential to update your ESTA file, before reusing. After the expiry of two years, your previous travel authorization gets deleted and you will need to make fresh application.

How ESTA validity period gets shortened?

ESTA authorization’s validity period is two years from confirmation date. There are some situations, where you will need to reapply ESTA before expiry date.

ESTA’s validity period gets shortened because of –

  • Expiry of passport
  • Loss of passport
  • Change of information that needs re-examination

ESTA is electronically linked with your passport number. On renewal of passport, the number changes, so the link with the passport gets lost. So, you need to reapply again to get new travel authorization linked with new passport.

Similarly, information supplied in the original application form needs to match. Fortunately, you can modify changes in postal address or destination without reapplication process and reuse the ESTA authorization till expiry of two years. If changed information needs re-examination then you will need to reapply for a new ESTA process.

Technically valid ESTA that needs to be updated

  • Changed your passport
  • Changed your name, identity, or address [changes in information relevant to situation and identity]
  • One answer given is no longer correct, which needs to be updated.
  • Changes in email address

However, to reapply for updates in a valid ESTA transfer and processing fees are charged. Response will be emailed within 3 days.