Travelling to the USA? You Need ESTA


In under a week some of the UK's leading digital firms will be making the trip to the Big Apple for the third Digital Mission to New York.

The week takes in a heap of activities designed to bring companies up-to-speed on the US market, make heaps of introductions and take in the full intensity of the ad:tech NYC Expo.

For those taking part in the Digital Mission, and anyone travelling to the US from the UK, the forms for immigration have changed in the last couple of months and it's now obligatory to complete the snappily titled Electronic System for Travel Authorization for (or thankfully, ESTA form).

You will not be allowed into the USA without having completed one. ESTA is designed to determine your eligibility to enter the USA before you travel. The US Customs & Border Protection website explains that:

"ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. The ESTA application collects the same information collected on Form I-94W"

Further information and FAQs can be found here:

5 Important Points (thanks to Martin Lewis):

  1. You must complete the ESTA - everyone going to the states by air or sea needs to fill one out, there are no excuses.  If you don't, you may be sent straight back home.
  2. ESTA does not guarantee you entry, it just establishes that you're 'eligible to travel'.  However, there are very few stories of people being denied if you've filled out the form correctly.
  3. You can only fill it out online.  Once you've done it, make sure you keep a note of your reference number somewhere safe.
  4. All accepted applications cost $14 ($4 if rejected).  This isn't a visa charge for entry, it's a charge for getting permission to attempt to enter the country.  The system only accepts Mastercard, Visa and American Express.  It's worth noting that you may be charged a foreign exchange 'load' fee on top by your bank.
  5. Watch out for fake ESTA sites.  Only use official sites.

We would recommend that, if you haven't already, you apply for your ESTA as soon as possible, and you can do that here:

Here are some useful links: