Top 5 benefits of ESTA for UK travellers

Top 5 benefits of the ESTA for US travel

Enjoy these benefits with visa-free US travel

The Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) was designed for convenient travel to the United States. The Electronic System of Travel Authorisation (ESTA ) has many benefits for citizens of participating countries. Some of include skipping the in-depth visa application process, fast and convenient acceptance into the programme, personalized assistance, and the simplicity of travel with an electronic aurhorization. Read on to find out how to enjoy the benefits of travel with ESTA and the VWP.


I. Travel to the United States visa-free

The Visa Waiver Programme permits citizens of 39 countries, including the United Kingdom and Ireland, to enter the United States for most travel purposes without requiring a visa. Acceptable purposes for US entry include business trips, vacations and tourism, and to transit the Unites States to travel to another country. For a more detailed explanation of the many ways UK citizens are approved for visa-free USA travel check out our All About ESTA page. Each US trip has a lengthy 90-day limit, which means it is possible to visit many different states and locations during one US tour if desired.


II. Multiple trips to the United States with one travel authorization

It is important to differentiate between the document validity and the limit of time allowed in the United States on a single trip. Although a single trip to the United States through the VWP has a 90-day limit, the travel document may have up to a two-year validity period from the date of issuance. The travel approval may expire sooner if the passport expires sooner, as the document may only link to a single passport and the passport details can not be updated on an existing document. There is no limit to how many trips may be taken throughout the life of an ESTA USA travel document. The same authorisation may be used for multiple trips to different locations within the United States, Puerto Rico, or the US Virgin Islands. Additionally, there is no required amount of time between trips. However, entry to the USA is always at the discretion of the US Customs and Border Protection agents. They must confirm that a passenger does not have the intent on a return trip to remain in the USA or attempt to secure employment therein. Providing proof of the trip purpose, such as a business trip meeting, or verifying intent to return home by showing proof of home ownership or a rental agreement in the UK can be beneficial upon reentrance.


III. Apply for the USA travel authorisation from home with fast results

The convenient online ESTA application can be completed from almost any location that has an internet connection. By applying for visa-free travel, applicants can avoid the inconveniences that can be experienced during US visa application process such as long wait times and in-person interviews. 

Another advantage to the online form is that it may be submitted by someone other than the applicant. This can be a huge help for those unable to complete the application themselves or for individuals that may need assistance such as infants, children, individuals with disabilities, or older adults. The following information is required to be on-hand once ready to apply for the visa-free travel programme:

  • Passport data—It is recommended to have the passport in-hand, or to have a photo of the main page of the passport to ensure the data is entered exactly as it is found on the passport.
  • Home address—This is the applicant’s home address in their permanent country of residence.
  • Name of parents—If one or both of the parent’s names are unknown, it is acceptable to enter “UNKNOWN.”
  • Email address—This must be a valid email address where the ESTA authorisation and any updates can be sent. This email address may be changed after the document is approved.
  • Additional citizenship information—Be prepared to answer if the applicant was or is a citizen of another country, how this citizenship was gained, and if there are any previous or current passports or identity cards issued for this additional country of citizenship.
  • “Yes” or “No” responses to the security questions—These questions must be reviewed carefully and answered as accurately as possible.

Once the form is submitted, the wait time for results is generally less than 24 hours. Often approval is received within minutes or a few hours. It is recommended that applicants apply at least 72 hours in advance of travel to receive the results in sufficient time.


IV. Talk to a live expert any day of the week for assistance with visa-free USA travel

Visa Waiver Programme applicants have the added benefit of contacting a live agent any day of the week for assistance with answering questions about the programme, addressing travel concerns, updating an existing document, or for help with the application process. To contact a live agent, complete our Quick Contact and ESTA Assistance Form at the link above to receive an email response to your request within 24 hours. Another option is to connect with a live agent by clicking on the chat icon in the lower right corner of our website for immediate assistance.

V. The electronic travel document automatically links to the traveler's passport

It is nearly impossible to misplace the visa-free travel authorization as it is electronic. As long as the passport exists and is in working condition, the electronic approval may be utilised for travel. Once the online request is authorised for travel, the document automatically electronically links to the corresponding passport’s data chip. This link will remain until the document to travel expires. By scanning a passport, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has access to the corresponding electronic approval from their system and does not require a printed version. However, some airlines request to see the printed authorisation details. This should be confirmed with the airline prior to travel. Additionally, travellers may prefer to carry a printed version while travelling for additional security and verification of the application number.

More about the ESTA visa waiver

We are here to help travellers have the best experience possible with ESTA authorised travel from the UK. In addition to providing an extensive ESTA Glossary, the thorough and complete ESTA Guide, and ESTA Travel News blog full of helpful articles, live agents are standing by every day of the week ready to provide support. We look forward to assisting you whenever you need help with your plans to pop across the pond!

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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