Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently reminded U.S.-bound international travelers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) requirements. ESTA has been mandatory for all nationals from VWP countries traveling to the United States under the VWP since January 12, 2009. CBP stated that beginning January 20, 2010, it will initiate a 60-day transition to enforce ESTA compliance for all carriers and that VWP travelers without an approved ESTA clearance will not be allowed to board a U.S.-bound plane.

CVP stated that ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to international travel and that once approved, the clearance generally will be valid for up to two years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. VWP travelers are required to log onto the ESTA website (www.cbp.gov/esta) and complete an online application prior to traveling internationally. CBP stated that ESTA is expected to completely replace the paper Form I-94W in the coming months. The ESTA website is available in 21 languages to accommodate most VWP travelers.