Is a return ticket required for ESTA?

Since the creation of the ESTA electronic travel authorisation system it is no longer necessary for you to apply for a visa to visit the United States, as long as you comply with certain conditions. Concerning the conditions required for obtaining this authorisation, a question often rises relating to the need for a traveller to hold a return ticket.

Apply for an ESTA online!

Is it necessary to have a return ticket to make an ESTA application, and if so why?

It is of course obligatory to hold a return ticket to complete your ESTA application and here we will explain the reasons why.

An ESTA authorisation is possible when your visit to the United States is for a period of no longer than 90 days. To ensure that the American authorities have tangible proof of the true duration of your visit it is therefore necessary to specify a return travel date.

You can benefit from the ESTA scheme to visit the United States only if you are travelling by cruise ship or plane as, before boarding, the travel company you have chosen will verify that you hold a return ticket and that its date corresponds to that indicated on your ESTA application.

Of course your return ticket should specify a return date that is within 90 days of your departure date.  

We therefore recommend you to buy return tickets before completing your online ESTA application.


The other conditions to fulfil for obtaining an ESTA authorisation:

Holding a return ticket is not the only condition required to obtain your ESTA authorisation. To prepare for a trouble free trip to the United States you should respect the following conditions:

  • You should be a citizen of one of the ESTA scheme member countries.
  • You should possess a biometric or electronic passport that is valid for the entirety of your visit.
  • Your visit should not exceed 90 days. If it is for longer then you should apply for a traditional visa.

If you fulfil all the above conditions you can complete your ESTA application form online right now. It is best to undertake this step at least two weeks before your departure date to ensure that you will obtain a positive response, or, if not, you can reapply after a one week legal delay or apply for a traditional visa from an American consulate or Embassy in your country of residence. Once obtained the ESTA authorisation is valid for two years.


Create an online ESTA application now:

So you wish to prepare your ESTA application today? Nothing could be simpler! You will need your passport and travel documents including your return flight ticket or boat ticket and then complete the following application form.

Apply for an ESTA online!