If you are travelling to the USA, the US authorities have introduced a requirement for passengers travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme to register for Electronic Travel Authority (implemented 1st January 2009). The ESTA is valid for two years, so you will only need to apply once even if transiting in the US on both your outbound and return journeys. For additional specifics about the VWP please consult the VWP information on the U.S. Embassy London website.
NB: The US Customs and Border Protection department have announced that there will be a USD14 charge to apply for an ESTA from 8 September 2010. All payments must be made by credit card.
Please note that not all nationalities have the same eligibility for travel to the USA, and you may not be covered by the visa waiver programme. If you do not hold a British passport, please check the visa requirements with your local U.S. Embassy.
Passengers who have not applied for and received travel authorisation via ESTA prior to travel may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing or be denied admission at the U.S port of entry. However, neither possession of a visa, nor meeting the basic requirements for travelling visa-free on the VWP, guarantees admission to the United States. As with most countries, the final determination of admissibility is made by immigration officials at the port of entry.
Important reminder: If you are refused boarding or denied admission at the US port of entry you will still be subject to our cancellation charges in accordance with the terms of our contract with you.
We recommend that you carry your ESTA approval with you when you travel.
All queries in relation to this requirement should be addressed via the US Embassy Consular department.
Please note that: Some other agencies have set up websites that ask for a more substantial amount of money to organise your Visa Waiver registration, these are unnecessary and sometimes fraudulent, so please be careful and use the suggested official US Embassy website.