United Kingdom Citizens ESTA Process: ESTA Application for travel to the USA

ESTA for Citizens of the United Kingdom

  • Country: United Kingdom
  • ESTA Required: Yes

The information that follows is applicable to citizens of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who wish to travel to the USA.

The government of the United States of America put into place the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and developed an automated online approval system called ESTA, to determine eligibility of the individual for the VWP. Using ESTA is mandatory for citizens of the UK who want to travel to the United States for a period of less than 90 days, and who do not already carry a valid visa for travel to the US.

ESTA approval can be used instead of a Visa in qualifying circumstances, but ESTA approval does not infer the same rights as a Visa. For this reason it is important that UK citizens familiarize themselves with the regulations and requirements of ESTA.

1. Can citizens of the United Kingdom travel to the USA with ESTA?

Most UK citizens are eligible to apply and use ESTA provided they and their trip meet VWP requirements.

2. Is the United Kingdom one of the VWP Countries?

The VWP maintains a list of Countries whose citizens are eligible for ESTA. Currently, there are 39 countries on this list, including the United Kingdom.

Only citizens of VWP approved countries may apply for ESTA. Citizens of countries not on the VWP list of approved countries must instead use a visa for travel to the USA.

3. If I have a valid Visa for travel to the USA, am I required to apply for ESTA?

No, Citizens of the UK who possess a valid Visa for travel to the United States are not required to apply for ESTA.

All other citizens of the United Kingdom who wish to travel to the USA for less than 90 days, by air or sea, are required to use ESTA.

4. How long does it take to get the ESTA and when should I apply?

USA officials recommend you apply for ESTA no later than 72 hours before your planned departure.

You do not need to wait, you can apply at any time. It is a good idea to apply for ESTA before you secure any reservations or buy airfare, which may not be refundable.

ESTA approval is quick and most receive a response in 24 hours, in normal cases.

5. When should a citizen of the United Kingdom apply for a Visa instead of an ESTA?

Remember, the ESTA is required for citizens of the United Kingdom, who are traveling to the USA, for trips less than 90 days, who do not already have a valid visa to travel to the US.

There are, however, a few exceptions.

If any of the following are true, you may need a Visa instead of an ESTA:

  • You plan to stay longer than 90 days in the USA
  • You applied for ESTA and were denied
  • You are a citizen of both the United Kingdom and Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
  • You do not have a valid e-passport
  • You are planning on staying in the USA to study or gain employment
  • They have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen from March 1 2011 to the present
  • You have committed a crime classified as Moral Turpitude
  • You have contracted any of the listed contagious diseases
  • You traveled to the USA using ESTA and overstayed the ESTA time limit. In this case you are no longer eligible for ESTA
  • You are traveling to the USA by land. Land border crossings are done with an I-94w form and Visa instead

6. What citizens of the United Kingdom need to know about ESTA and passports.

Citizens of the UK need to be aware of the following details regarding passports and the ESTA.

  • If your passport expires in less than two years, your ESTA approval will expire at the same time your passport expires, otherwise, ESTA approval lasts two years.
  • Citizens of the UK need a ‘full validity’ e-passport with an electronic chip to apply for ESTA.


It is best to apply for the ESTA today, before you make any travel arrangements.

Apply for USA ESTA Today

Additional ESTA Details

The VWP, or Visa Waiver Program was created by the US government which employs a system called ESTA, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization. ESTA is an online system used to determine eligibility for citizens of countries eligible for the VWP program.

The VWP maintains of list of eligible countries, including the United Kingdom.

ESTA Facts

  • ESTA applications are made online
  • The majority of applicants who are citizens of eligible countries are approved without any problems
  • ESTA approval lasts for two years and is easy to renew
  • ESTA is required for eligible travelers as of January 11, 2009
  • ESTA is designed for all citizens of the United Kingdom, regardless of age, including children, if they have a qualifying passport

Note: Your ESTA approval will be revoked if you no longer meet ESTA requirements, have a name change, get a new passport or change citizenship, name or gender assignment.

Check your current ESTA approval record here.

Use this easy online form to apply for ESTA for the first time or reapply if approval is expired.

Once you submit the online form, you can expect to receive approval shortly, usually 24 hrs or less.