CBP issued a statement reminding U.S.-bound travelers who plan to use the Visa Waiver Program ("VWP") that they first must register and obtain clearance from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization ("ESTA"). ESTA has been mandatory since January 12, 2009, for all nationals of VWP countries traveling to the United States under the VWP. The requirement does not affect U.S. citizens returning from overseas or citizens of VWP countries traveling on a valid U.S. visa.
ESTA applications may be submitted electronically at any time prior to travel. Generally, once approved, they will be valid for up to two years or until the applicant's passport expires, whichever comes first. These authorizations are valid for multiple entries into the United States. To avoid travel delays or disruptions, ESTA applications should be submitted as soon as an applicant begins making travel plans.
The ESTA Web site is available in 21 languages: Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish. Starting January 20, 2010, CBP will engage in a 60-day transition before mandatory enforcement of ESTA compliance for air carriers. Once that period is over, VWP travelers without an approved ESTA will not be allowed to board a U.S.-bound aircraft. For additional information about ESTA, including registration instructions, please visit www.cbp.gov/ESTA.