A point of contact in the USA: What is it?
First of all, let's look at what the point of contact requested in the ESTA application form actually is. Indeed, when you wish to travel to the United States, it is possible to obtain an electronic travel authorisation called ESTA, which allows you to obtain a legal authorisation corresponding to the old visa in less than 72 hours. This simplified procedure has the advantage of being fast and secure and costs less than a traditional visa. You can apply for it directly online on a website such as that of our partner.
This procedure simply involves filling in an online form which asks you for some personal and travel information. In particular, you will be asked to provide your full name and passport number and then answer a series of questions.
Of these questions, one in particular may be problematic for some travellers who do not know how to answer them. This is the point of contact information in the USA. The term "point of contact" may sound strange and unclear, but in reality it is simply the contact details of your hotel or the person you are visiting in the USA.
Which contact point is indicated in the case of a tour in the USA?
For example, it is fairly straightforward to complete the form with the contact point if you have chosen to reside in a specific city in the USA and in a single hotel or resort. However, there are some situations that can make the answer to this item more complex.
For example, if you are planning a tour of the United States and will be changing hotels regularly during your stay, it is difficult to know which of these hotels you should include in the point of contact request. Of course, it is not necessary to enter all the details of all the hotels you will be staying at here, as only the first hotel needs to be entered.
Note also that hotels are not the only contact points you can indicate on your ESTA form. In fact, if you are staying with a relative, you can also provide their contact details. Finally, if you have chosen to book accommodation on a website such as Airbnb or any other website, you will need to provide the contact details of your host. You should therefore remember to ask them for this information when you make your reservation so that you do not get stuck when you apply for your ESTA.
How do you fill in this item if you don't know your contact point yet?
Sometimes you want to apply for an ESTA but you have not yet booked a hotel in the country. In this case, it may be difficult to find a contact point. But rest assured, there is a simple solution. You can simply indicate "unknow" in this item.
Although it may seem surprising, the American authorities in charge of examining ESTA applications perfectly accept this answer to the question about the point of contact. However, it is essential to understand that if this answer is accepted and does not represent a reason for refusing your ESTA, when you arrive on American soil, an immigration officer may ask you to provide the contact details of the person or hotel where you will be staying. If you have mentioned "unknow" in the application form, you are strongly advised to carry a copy of the hotel reservation you have made or the contact details of the person you will be staying with.
This means that you can apply for an ESTA without having booked accommodation in the United States, but it is much more risky to travel to the country without a place to stay and with the intention of booking accommodation once you are there. The immigration officer can refuse you entry to the United States for this reason alone.
Do I have to change the point of contact when reusing an ESTA obtained for a previous trip?
As you probably already know, an ESTA electronic travel authorisation is valid for two years from the date of issue. It is therefore possible to use it to make various trips to the United States during this period and if none of your personal information has changed (passport number, name, etc.).
But since you do not need to reapply for your ESTA for this new trip, and if you are staying in a different location or even in a different city in the United States for this new trip, do you need to change this point of contact? The answer to this question is simple: No. You are under no obligation to mention the change of contact point or to reapply.
In fact, from a legal point of view, the checks concerning the point of contact are only carried out during the first stay in the United States using the ESTA. As this authorisation is granted to travellers for a period of two years, you are perfectly entitled to visit the country again during this period without having to modify or repeat the electronic authorisation application procedure. However, be sure to have the contact details of your hotel or accommodation provider with you in case you need them.