Can my ESTA expire during my United States travel?

USA travel with ESTA

Do I need to renew my ESTA or request an extension whilst in the United States?

The US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) is a visa waiver programme that allows travellers from the United Kingdom, and other eligible countries, authorisation for short-term travel to the United States and US territories including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for stays of up to 90 days. This authorisation is valid for two years from the date of issue. But what happens if your visa waiver expires during your stay? 

Read on to learn more about ESTA expiration and what you need to do if the travel waiver expires while you adventure across the pond!

Understanding the ESTA validity period

The ESTA validity period is for two years from the date of issue, or until the associated valid passport expires, whichever occurs first. As long as the ESTA waiver is valid on the date of entry to the US and your critical information has not changed, you may enter the country and travel freely for the allowed period of 90 days or less.

However, there may be a situation when you enter the United States and your ESTA expires whilst travelling. 

Don’t panic. If your waiver expires whilst in the US, you will not be forced to end your trip early. You will still have to adhere to the 90-day limit for visa-free travel. In short, if you enter legally with a valid travel authorisation, you may stay as long as it allows. In the case of ESTA, that means leisure or business travel for up to 90 days.

The validity period of the US visa waiver is two years; however, if any of your critical information changes, such as name, gender, or passport number, you must re-apply for a new travel authorization.

How do I check the status of my ESTA application?

You can check ESTA status on the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). There are different options for whether you are checking an individual status or that of a group. To check your validity status, you can enter the ESTA application number or the number of the associated passport information including date of birth Country of citizenship, passport issuance date and passport expiration date 

As long as your travel waiver is valid at the date of entry/arrival, you may enter the United States. To recap: Even if the United States travel waiver expires whilst in the country, you may continue your stay and depart as planned as long as it is within the 90 days allowed by the VWP.

ESTA expiration FAQ: What happens if my US visa waiver expires before I depart the United States?

Do I need to apply while still in the United States? No, you do not need to re-apply for authorisation whilst actively in the United States. However, you will need to reapply before you can re-enter the country at a later date. United States border policies require travellers present either a visa waiver or a traditional visa. Traditional visas are used for long-term stays, including for educational study and employment as example. 

What if my ESTA is denied?

If your ESTA waiver application is denied, you may have to apply for a visa, depending on the reason for denial. More: Was your ESTA application denied?

How do I renew my ESTA Visa Waiver?

When your visa waiver expires, you will may simply apply for a new authorisation to be authorized to continue to travel to United States visa-free.

Other reasons you may need to apply for a new waiver include if you:

  • Are issued a new passport
  • Changed your name
  • Changed your gender
  • Changed your country of citizenship
  • Have any changes to the answers of the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ security questions on the application

The application process is completed entirely online, and applicants must enter all of information exactly as it appears on their passport. 

To apply for the US visa waiver one needs:

  • A valid machine-readable passport or E passport
  • A valid email address
  • A bank card, credit card or debit card for payment

Applicants for the VWP may also be asked to supply employment or education information.

Although the process is fairly simple, any typographical errors or inconsistencies in the application can result in denial. One can re-apply with the correct information, but it will save time and resources to get it right the first time.

Most applications are processed within a few hours or occasionally up to a few days at most, and applicants can check the application status on the website. You will need your passport number or application number to check your status. Once approved, you will not receive a paper document. Instead, an electronic documentation of the travel authorization will be tied directly to the passport used for the visa waiver form. When you reach a US port of entry, your passport will be scanned to verify your authorisation.

Apply for visa-free travel to the United States here

Visa-free travel to the US is simple with the correct documentation. ESTA allows UK citizens, and those from any eligible VWP country, to travel all over the United States, and territories including Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands for up to 90 days.

Good travel reads from our ESTA travel blog:

What types of travel are authorised with the ESTA Visa Waiver?
Green card or ESTA visa waiver – which do I need?
American customs: what to expect while travelling in the US

Travelling to the United States? Do you have your pre-planning checklist in order? Visit our ESTA Guide for more information about obtaining your travel permit. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your comments or questions for travel assistance.

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