Traveling to the US as a Foreigner? You NEED to Know About ESTA!

I’m an American, and well aware of (and thankful for) my passport privilege. Unfortunately, traveling from country to country isn’t as simple for everyone – especially anyone coming to the United States. This fact is especially salient to me recently, when choosing where to get married, as many friends might not be able to get a visa (and even if they could – the process is such a pain!)

Traveling to the US as a foreigner without a green card or previous visa can be a major headache and hassle. Luckily, the advent of the ESTA can save your day (if you’re from one of the lucky countries).

Want to Travel to the USA as a Foreigner? What You NEED to know about ESTA


Do you have friends or family that do not live in the US and do not want to travel to the USA over VISA concerns?
Well, you may just well be in for a treat. Introducing: ESTA. A program developed to allow for easier transits to the US, currently from 38 countries around the world. Australia, Chile, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, to name a handful.

Why choose ESTA?
With this beautiful invention, travellers from the aforementioned countries and many more, can travel to the US for periods of up to 90 days per vacation.

How do I get an ESTA?
All the travellers have to do is fill out a form online with an electronic passport, they should then receive an email of authorization within 72 hours. The real beauty of this process is that it only costs $14. So not are you cutting time, you’re cutting cost as well. The ESTA is valid for two years, and expires when the passport expires; whichever is sooner.

Who is the ESTA intended for?
The ESTA is intended for those travelling to the US on business trips, vacations or those with connecting flights within the US. Travellers can travel to the US an unlimited amount of times during the 2 year validity period, as long as they do not overstay their 90 day period. This is perfect for; your family, your friends, your pen pals, your online companions, providing they’re from the countries listed. To find out if your friends or family can qualify for this program, visit where you will find a more information. 

Esta Infographic

(don’t forget to pin it for later!)

Frequently asked questions about ESTA:

Can you work on an ESTA?
No. The ESTA is a travel document only and does not permit the right to work. So if your family or friends are wanting to travel to the US to work, they should follow the usual VISA process. The ESTA is strictly for travelling.

Is my information secure?
Absolutely. The data is collected by the United States government who use the most secure technologies to ensure that data is secure.

I don’t have time to complete the online form, what can I do?
Fear not. For example, if your loved one doesn’t have access or ability to complete the application, 3rd parties are allowed to complete application forms. Ensure that all the data provided is correct as it could cause problems upon arrival.

Should I carry a printed version of my ESTA?
This is not always necessary, however it is always better to be safe than sorry. You never know, but in most cases this is not needed.

This article was written by Josh Hobson and Sophie Jones, Masters Students at the Univeristy of Liverpool.

Josh Thinking about the ESTA

Josh pondering the ESTA and how much time and hassle it saves!

A message from Josh, who traveled to the US last summer: ‘This is a tool that could potentially save travelers a lot of time, money and hassle! Literally this programme is so easy.”


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook


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