The ESTA electronic travel authorisation allows you to travel to the USA without applying for a traditional visa. It also has the advantage that it can be used for several trips to the USA. Indeed, during the entire validity of the ESTA, and under certain conditions, you can make one or more trips to the country. But how long is this authorisation valid for and in what cases can it be shortened? This is what we propose to find out here in detail.
How long is the ESTA valid for now?
An ESTA authorisation is currently valid for 2 years from the date of issue.
This means that during these two years, you can make as many trips to the United States as you wish without having to reapply. Just remember that each of these trips cannot exceed a period of stay of 90 days.
But be careful! As we will see below with some precise explanations, the validity period of your ESTA for the United States may be shorter because this authorisation may expire before the normal date in several situations.
Please note that once your ESTA has expired or is no longer valid, it cannot be modified or automatically renewed. In this case, if you wish to travel to the USA again, you will have to reapply for an ESTA online, repeating the procedure from the beginning.
What causes a reduction in the validity of the ESTA?
As mentioned above, in certain specific cases, the ESTA may be valid for less than two years. Here are the different elements that can reduce this period:
- A change of passport: If the passport you filled in when you initially applied for an ESTA has changed due to a renewal or loss or theft of the previous one, you will have to reapply. Remember that an ESTA is electronically linked to a passport number which cannot be changed.
- Error in the form: If you make a mistake when filling in the ESTA form online or forget to provide certain information, your ESTA will be automatically cancelled.
- A change in the information provided: In the same way, if some of the information you entered in the ESTA application form is no longer correct, such as your address, name or e-mail address, you will have to reapply.
- If you plan to travel to the USA for more than 90 days: If you plan to travel to the USA for more than 90 days, your ESTA cannot be used and you will have to apply for a visa.
- Failure to comply with the conditions of your previous trip: If you did not comply with the legal conditions of your previous trip to the USA, the US government may cancel your ESTA.
Do not confuse the validity of the ESTA with the authorised length of stay:
The period of time we are talking about in this article concerns the validity period and therefore the time during which you can use your ESTA once you have obtained it. It does not refer to the length of stay authorised with this travel authorisation.
Although you can make an unlimited number of trips to the United States during the two years of validity of your ESTA, each stay cannot exceed a period of 90 consecutive days, i.e. three months on American territory.
Remember also that you can only use your ESTA to travel to the United States if you are travelling to the country for tourism, business, transit or to visit a relative.
Even if it is still valid, your ESTA will not allow you to travel to the USA to work or study.
Also note that if you wish to travel to Canada, Mexico or one of the Caribbean islands during your trip to the United States, this stay will be included in the 90-day validity of your ESTA.
How long do I have to stay in the US with an ESTA?
If you are tempted to extend the duration of your ESTA by leaving the US to re-enter quickly, you should know that you are not supposed to do so. Although the US government has not set an official minimum period between trips to the USA, you will be checked by a Customs and Border Protection officer when you arrive.
The officer will examine your situation and, if he or she suspects that you have temporarily left the United States for the sole purpose of extending the maximum 90-day validity of your ESTA, he or she may declare the authorisation invalid.
Indeed, if you wish to stay longer than 90 days in the United States, this is perfectly possible, but in this case, your ESTA will not be accepted and you will have to apply for a visa first.
Duration of passport validity and duration of ESTA validity :
Let's take advantage of this article to remind you of an important point concerning the validity period of your ESTA authorisation and its link with the validity period of your passport. Indeed, the ESTA electronic authorisation is an authorisation that is electronically linked to a passport whose number was communicated by the traveller at the time of his application, in the online form.
This means that it is not only the validity of your ESTA that you need to take into account if you wish to travel to the USA again. For example, if the passport you used at the time of your initial application has expired, your travel authorisation will also expire.
If you wish to take full advantage of the two-year validity period of your ESTA to make several trips to the United States, it is therefore advisable to ensure that your passport is also valid for these two years. If your passport is due to expire soon, we recommend that you first apply for a new one before applying for an ESTA.
It should be remembered that if all the passport details have not been correctly indicated in the ESTA application, its validity also expires immediately.
The passport number entered in the ESTA application form must always be the same as the passport that you will present when travelling to the USA. Although the ESTA application procedure only takes a few minutes, a passport application can take longer. It is therefore advisable to apply for an ESTA in good time in order to be able to successfully complete your trip.
Is the validity of the ESTA extended when it expires?
No! The ESTA electronic travel authorisation system does not operate on the tacit renewal model. This means that when your authorisation reaches the two-year mark, it automatically expires and cannot be renewed or extended under any circumstances.
Any traveller whose ESTA has expired must therefore reapply in the same way as the first time and pay the fees for this procedure again. You will not be asked for an ESTA number when you apply online.
How do I apply for an ESTA when it has expired?
Have you just found out that your ESTA authorisation has expired and would like to plan a trip to the USA soon? Here is the procedure to follow to apply for a new electronic travel authorisation:
- Go to a site offering an online ESTA application service such as the official site or the site of our partner
- Fill in the application form in English with your personal details, passport number, email address and answer the following questions
- Check the information you have entered to ensure that you have not made any mistakes in the form before submitting it.
- Validate your application by making an online payment of the processing and transfer fee.
Once the application has been made, it should take a maximum of 72 hours to receive a reply. This will be sent to you by email and you will not be obliged to print your ESTA, which will then be automatically attached to your passport.
What data on the form can cause your ESTA to expire before its validity expires?
As mentioned above, an error or change in some of the data on the ESTA application form may cause your authorisation to expire before the end of the two-year validity period.
This applies in particular to incomplete or incorrect data. If the application form has not been filled in correctly or if information is missing, it is possible that your ESTA will be granted without being valid.
It should be remembered that ESTAs are issued without being thoroughly checked by the immigration authorities. It is therefore most often at the time of crossing the border that these agents can detect an error such as a wrong date of birth. This type of error will not be detected automatically by the form and will therefore allow you to obtain your ESTA but not to use it.
Unfortunately, travellers often discover this error when they check in for their flight to the United States. The airline will then consider the ESTA invalid. It will then be necessary to make a new application by filling in a new form.
Similarly, it is possible that the information entered in the initial application form is no longer valid at the time of your trip. In this case, if your situation has changed, your ESTA may be declared invalid. Your ESTA will automatically expire if :
- You use a new passport
- You have changed your surname or first name
- You have changed your nationality
- You have changed gender
- You have moved to another country
- You can no longer answer "no" to all security questions
In some other cases, a change in certain data will not affect the validity of your ESTA and you will be able to use it for your trip:
- You have moved but not to another country
- You have changed your point of contact in the US
- You have changed your holiday address or travel date
- You wish to travel to the United States for a different reason (in compliance with the reasons authorised by the ESTA)
As a web writer and globetrotter with a passion for travel and tourism, I have acquired in-depth knowledge of the procedures that are essential for travellers. I help travellers to complete all the formalities required for a successful trip, particularly when it comes to obtaining a visa online. With several years' experience in this field, I'd like to offer you some valuable advice to help you discover the world with complete peace of mind.