ESTA and Visiting Florida - Important Information

Prior to travelling to the USA through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), all non-US residents and non-US visa holders must have pre-approved authorization by registering their details on-line through ESTA.

Travelling to Florida

On 12 January 2009, the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) was enhanced with the inclusion of ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Travelling under the VWP normally meant completing a green coloured form (referred to as 'I-94W') for each person. Unless you have US citizenship or already have a visa which allows entry into the US, then almost certainly you will need to complete ESTA on-line prior to travelling. The application must be made at least 72 hours in advance, but can be done earlier. If you are considering travelling to the US, but have nothing confirmed, you can still apply for approval. This is beneficial when looking to travel at short notice.

What is required for ESTA?

ESTA is the authorisation to travel under the VWP and as such the same rules apply as to who will qualify. To apply for approval, visitors must complete questions on the ESTA website (links below), which are very similar to those on the VWP I-94W (e.g. applicant's name, date of birth, passport details). As you will also need to enter a local address whilst visiting the US, please contact the owner for the address of the villa you have booked.

Once you have registered your details, approval is often received immediately, but in some cases it can take up to 72 hours. Each submission is given a unique Application Number, which should be noted to check on any pending status. It is also advisable to print out the approval and also worth noting that approval under ESTA does not guarantee admission into the US. Where approved, the application is valid for two years or until the applicants passport expires (whichever comes first). Other instances in which approval will cease are: change of name, gender, citizenship or circumstances underlying the applicants previous responses to the questions. In these cases, a new application under ESTA must be made. There is a charge of 14 US Dollars levied for each registration. However, beware of some scrupulous websites which are charging up to 250 US Dollars for completion and submission of these details on your behalf.
We advise reviewing the official ESTA website as this will be more comprehensive and is provided by the US Customs & Border Protection office. The website will clearly state exactly what is required and what restrictions are in place when looking to travel to Florida and USA.