Introduction of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization
(ESTA), January 2009
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an
electronic registration system requiring travellers who are part of
the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to register in advance of travelling
to the USA. The ESTA program began on a voluntary basis on 1 August
2008. Mandatory registration will come into force as of 12 January
2009. Visa Waiver travellers should register through the Department
of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection Agency
website. Registration is free and may be done by third parties
e.g. travel agencies.
ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, and
once approved, generally will be valid for up to two years or until
the applicant's passport expires or in the event of a name change.
Authorisations will be valid for multiple entries into the U.S. The
US Department of Homeland Security is recommending that ESTA
applications be submitted as soon as an applicant begins making
travel plans and at least 72 hours in advance of
travel. An applicant who does not receive
authorisation to travel will need to go to their nearest U.S.
Diplomatic or Consular Mission and apply for a visa. An ESTA
approval does not determine admissibility into the United States.
The final decision for entry to the United States rests with US
immigration authorities at the port of entry. The ESTA program does
not apply to Irish citizens who are holders of a visa for the
United States. For more information on ESTA, please visit
Irish citizens travelling or living overseas, outside the Common
Travel Area, (Ireland/Great Britain) are encouraged to register
their contact details with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Registration is voluntary. It is a facility available to all
Irish citizens travelling abroad although it is primarily intended
for those who are travelling to remote destinations or locations
where they may be at risk. You will find the travel
registration form here.