What to do if the ESTA authorisation expires during a trip
In fact, as we shall look at closely here, although an ESTA authorisation is theoretically valid for two years for all visits to the United States during this period, it may not necessarily cover the entire period of your stay. So, are you required to re-apply for ESTA authorisation if it expires during your visit?
The ESTA validity period and the application:
An ESTA authorisation is valid for 2 years from the date it was issued by the American authorities, on the condition that all personal information concerning the traveller has not changed. You can therefore use this authorisation for numerous visits during this period.
Nevertheless, it is not necessary that this authorisation covers the entirety of your stay in the U.S.A. If the return date of your visit is later than the end of the validity period of your ESTA authorisation but your passport is valid during the entire period of your visit then you can use your authorisation.
The validity of your ESTA is actually systematically electronically verified by the travel company you have chosen to use. Therefore, if your authorisation is valid on the first day of your trip you will be allowed to board and depart for the U.S.A. This is why it is necessary for you to check this information before your departure.
How to proceed if your ESTA authorisation expires during your visit?
If your ESTA authorisation is valid at the beginning of your trip but expires during your stay in the United States and therefore before your return date it is not necessary for you to complete a new application that covers the entirety of your trip.
However, clearly you cannot use your ESTA for future visits to the United States and you will have to renew your authorisation for future trips in order to benefit from a new authorisation period of 2 years.
To create a new ESTA application you should complete the online application form again using a website such as ours. You will need to reply to all the questions asked as if it was your first application. You will also be required to pay the standard application fee using a credit or debit card in order to validate your questionnaire.
When is it necessary to reapply for ESTA authorisation?
There are nevertheless certain cases in which you need to make a new ESTA application, such as:
- If your personal information has changed (such as change of name or gender).
- If you have changed your passport.
- If one of your answers to the questions asked in the application form has changed.
- If your first application was refused.
It is therefore important to take the time to verify that your ESTA authorisation is still valid at the beginning of your stay and that the above situations do not apply to you.
The particular case of a transit or stopover in the United States with the expiry of your ESTA occurring during the visit.
As we have just examined in detail, it is not necessary to reapply for your ESTA if this expires during your visit as long as this authorisation is valid when you initially enter American territory. An ESTA is in fact a travel authorisation that is verified when you disembark or cross the American border and you can conclude your visit after the expiry date of this authorisation as long as your stay does not exceed 90 days in total.
However this is slightly different when your travel is to a final destination other than the United States with a transit or stopover in an American airport. In this particular case, if your travel plans included a transit or stopover on the outgoing and return flights then your ESTA authorisation will need to be valid for your entire visit.
In fact, when you make a stopover or transit through the United States on your outgoing travel you are also effectively entering then leaving American territory. In the eyes of the law this constitutes an entire visit, even if you do not leave the airplane. This is why you need to hold a valid ESTA to transit through the USA. But in this case it is also the same for your return travel. This means that if your ESTA expires during your stay in the country that constitutes your final destination it will no longer be valid for your second transit which will be considered as a new and separate visit and you will therefore not be allowed to board your plane.
It is therefore necessary in this situation that your ESTA covers both your outgoing and return flights to be able to travel serenely. If this is not the case then there are two solutions available to you. The first, that we highly recommend, is to renew your ESTA before your travel to ensure that the new two year period covers your entire visit, even if this means that you lose a few days or weeks that may remain on your existing ESTA. The second solution is to reapply for an ESTA after the expiry of your current ESTA authorisation but in this case you must be sure that you can successfully complete the renewal procedure during your visit. This of course requires an internet connection and some time but in this way you will be able to fully benefit from the entire validity period of your existing ESTA. Another point, with this solution you do run the risk of not being able to return home under ideal conditions as if this new ESTA application is refused then you will need to change your travel plans for a direct flight or make a stopover in another country.
Before travelling to the United States or transiting through an American airport it is therefore necessary to take the time to verify the validity dates of your ESTA authorisation.