People from Denmark, Belgium, France, Sweden, Germany and other countries that use special non-Latin characters often wonder how they should be written on the ESTA application form. Since the English language doesn’t use any accented characters, a completed ESTA application may only contain English (Latin) characters.
The ESTA website is capable, however, of dealing with the vast majority of French, German and Swedish accented characters by automatically transliterating them into the Latin letter equivalent. A German name like “Müller”, for example, would be automatically transliterated into “Mueller”.
In the case of a name with special characters, the simple explanation is to enter the characters into the ESTA application form exactly as they appear at the bottom of the identification page of the passport. This is known as the machine-readable zone and is identified with <<<< symbols.
In some cases, an immigrations officer might ask why the data on your plane ticket or your ESTA form differs from the original spelling in your passport. If that happens, you can simply point to the machine-readable lines at the bottom of your passport data page, because they are always transliterated to Latin characters.
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.