Did you know that from January 12th this year, UK travellers to the United States need to register on line with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before departure? All nationals and citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries – including the UK – will be required by law to get travel authorization prior to boarding the airplane.
Travelers can now register online. The information provided is the same as what was completed on the forms aboard the plane, the same data that most countries already collect at their borders. ESTA will eventually replace those forms.
In fact, our very own world traveller, Robert White, nearly got caught out by this change in procedure on his round the world trip. Luckily, his Mum told him before he flew or he might not have made the last leg of his tour!!
Rob told us “It’s pretty straightforward. It pretty much asks the same questions as the Visa Waiver form i.e. personal info and passport info, where you’re staying in the US, and all those questions about whether you’re a no-gooder!! It only takes a few minutes and I got authorization straight away.”
According to the US Embassy website, almost 14,000 travelers are registering with ESTA each day and all UK citizens planning to travel to the United States in the future are encouraged to apply now. Travelers don’t need to have specific travel plans in order to register. Registration is valid for two years or the life of the traveler’s passport, whichever is shorter. So far, 99.6% of those registering have been approved – most within four seconds.
So, if you’re travelling to the US this year, or know someone who is, make sure you’re registered. Otherwise, they might not let you on the plane!!