Use the following table of terms to get a better understanding of the ESTA process. These terms are used frequently on this and other ESTA websites, so we've provided detailed descriptions and related links to help clarify items that may be unclear or confusing.
Find more information about these subjects in our ESTA Guide area.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is an online automated system, allowing eligible Visa Waiver Programme citizens to request advanced authorisation to board an approved carrier or vessel traveling to the United States. Please see Signatory Carrier below for more details regarding approved carriers or vessels.
The ESTA application number identifies your approval status for travel. The ESTA application number is located in the top centre portion of your approval document.
The ESTA Travel Authorisation is generally valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever occurs first. A visitor may travel to the USA multiple times within the two years without having to complete a new ESTA form.
The Passport Issuing Country is the country that issued the passport you are using to apply for the Visa Waiver Program on the ESTA form. This country should be one of the 39 participants in the Visa Waiver Program in order to be eligible.
A Biometric Passport, also called an ePassport, is a type of passport that includes an electronic chip that contains personal information about the holder's identity. This type of passport has a small symbol on the front cover and were implemented by many countries starting in late 2006.
A Machine Readable Passport is a standard passport that contains special characters on the identity page that are readable by a machine. Most countries began issuing these types of passports in the 1980's and all ePassports are also machine readable.
A children's passport is typically a special version of a standard passport with less identity information and with a temporary style This type of passport is not acceptable for the Visa Waiver Program unless it was issued or extended on or before October 26, 2006.
Authorization Approved is a term used by the US Government to indicate that an individual has been granted permission to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program after they've applied through the ESTA system. This status is registered and associated with the ESTA application number.
Travel Not Authorized is a term used by the US Government to indicate that an individual is not granted permission to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program after they've applied through the ESTA system. In most cases, an individual must apply for a visa if they've received this outcome.
Authorisation Pending is a term used by the US Government to indicate that an individuals ESTA application is pending further review. If you've received this message, we will continue to monitor the ESTA application until a final outcome has been issued. This can also occur if the ESTA system is experiencing a technical issue.
A Signatory Carrier is a classification of an air or sea travel provider that has signed an agreement guaranteeing transport of an individual out of the United States if they are found inadmissible or deportable. This type of carrier is required for providing travel under the Visa Waiver Program. Nearly every major airline and cruise ship is a signatory carrier, but if you are unsure, contact your travel provider or contact us.
A Visitor Visa is often referred to as a B-2 visa. This is a nonimmigrant visa for the purpose of tourism or other personal or social reasons. They are normally issued for up to six months. If you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Programme country, you may apply for an ESTA if your stay is for less than 90 days.
A Business Visa is often referred to as a B-1 visa. This is a nonimmigrant visa for the purposes of business that does not involve receiving a salary or payment from a U.S. source. They are normally issued for up to six months. If you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Programme country, you may apply for an ESTA if your stay is for less than 90 days.
An Extension of Stay is a special request to stay in the United States beyond the original agreement but is not available under the Visa Waiver Program in almost all situations. Travel to the United States is approved under the ESTA USA Visa Waiver Program for a period of no more than 90 days. If your schedule requires you to stay in the US longer than 90 days, please visit your local US Embassy or Consulate for information on a Visitor Visa or Business Visa.
An ESTA Renewal is required when your passport has changed, or 2 years has elapsed since your travel authorisation was granted with the ESTA application.