How long is an ESTA authorisation valid for?
In principle an ESTA authorisation, once obtained, is valid for a period of two years. This validity period starts when you receive your travel authorisation from the American authorities, not from when you submit your application.
Theoretically, you can therefore reuse this authorisation during the whole of its two year period of validity to make several trips to the USA. However, you will need to meet certain conditions that we will cover here in detail.
The conditions required for making several visits using the same ESTA authorisation:
To use your ESTA authorisation numerous times during its validity period you should meet the following requirements:
- Firstly, your biometric or electronic passport number should be the same as that used during your first trip. It is actually the passport number that your ESTA authorisation is associated with electronically. Of course, the validity period of this passport should cover the entirety of your stay in the United States.
- Also, this ESTA authorisation is only valid for stays of less than 90 days. You cannot use it for longer stays or to prolong your stay in the USA. In the latter situation you will have to exit American territory and create a new ESTA application.
- Your personal situation must not have changed. If you have got married, divorced or changed your civil status then you can no longer use your ESTA authorisation for another trip.
- Finally, you should verify that your initial responses to all questions asked remain correct. This particularly concerns the questions in the last part of the form.
How to reuse your ESTA authorisation:
To reuse your ESTA authorisation for further visits after your initial trip, you should update your online application form. To do this you should return to the website where you submitted your initial application, or the official ESTA website as applicable. Ensure you have your original reference number at hand. This number was issued to you during the submission of your first ESTA application.
You should then confirm the accuracy of all information entered with your current situation, or modify it as necessary if changes have occurred. Please note, in the latter case, it may be possible that the American authorities refuse to grant you authorisation, even if you were originally granted it with your initial application.
Can an ESTA be reused after a change of passport?
This is a question asked by many visitors to the United States who have obtained an ESTA less than two years previously and which is therefore still valid but who have changed their passport for one reason or another. In fact, when your passport expires you are required to renew it to enjoy the possibility of travelling outside the European Union. This is the same if you have lost your passport or it has been stolen.
However, when you renew your passport for any reason, the number of your new passport is of course not the same as that of the old one. Therefore, as your ESTA travel authorisation is linked electronically to a single passport number it cannot be used with your new passport. It is currently not possible to simply communicate this change of passport to authorities responsible for travel authorisations and this modification to your ESTA authorisation application is therefore not possible. In this case you will therefore have to repeat the entire ESTA application procedure to enjoy future visits to the United States.
The fact of completing a new ESTA application will allow you to benefit fully, again, from your travel authorisation for a two year period and you will therefore be able to enjoy numerous visits due to this.
If your passport is approaching its expiry date and you plan to visit to the United States shortly then it is advisable to wait for the new passport before applying for your ESTA online. In this way, you are guaranteed the opportunity to fully benefit from the two year validity period to enjoy numerous visits or transits through the USA without having to complete a new ESTA application and thereby paying the costs and fees again.
How to undertake new visits to the USA after the expiry of your ESTA authorisation?
As we previously examined in detail, an ESTA authorisation is valid for two years following the issue date and it enables you to visit the United States numerous times, including transits and stopovers, as long as each visit is for less than 90 days. But some people ask if it is possible to travel to the USA again when their ESTA has reached its expiry date.
This is of course not impossible and does require obtaining a new travel authorisation in all cases. In fact, an ESTA authorisation is not a document that is automatically renewed. When your ESTA has reached its legal expiry date after two years you will have to complete a new application procedure online for an ESTA that will again be valid for two years. The procedure here is exactly the same as with the initial application. You should therefore visit a website that offers this application form online, complete it by replying to all questions asked and then submit it making the payment requested.
In the same way, even if you have already obtained an ESTA authorisation in the past this does not automatically guarantee you a positive response to your next ESTA application. Your application will be carefully examined in a neutral manner, independent of your previous ESTA. If your situation has changed since your initial ESTA application then the answers you give in your application form may lead to a negative response from the American authorities.
Is it possible to hold a visa in addition to an ESTA for a future visit of more than 90 days in the United States:
Although the ESTA is valid for two years and therefore enables you to visit the United States numerous times during this period it is essential that these visits comply with certain basic conditions in accordance with the Visa Waiver Programme.
Therefore, if you wish to visit the USA for longer than 90 days, or your visit is for a reason other than tourism or visiting a friend or family member, such as for example working or studying there, the ESTA does not enable you to undertake this visit and you will be required to obtain a visa for such a visit.
Obtaining a visa for your future visit to the USA does not change the usefulness of your ESTA authorisation that remains valid for its two year period. This can be useful for other visits as long as they respect the conditions stated previously. It is therefore entirely possible to hold both an ESTA authorisation and a visa for the United States.
You now know how to use your ESTA and fully benefit from it by enjoying numerous visits to the USA during its validity period.