On the one-year anniversary of implementing the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, the Department of Homeland Security's US Customs and Border Protection reminds US-bound travelers from Visa Waiver Program countries of the ESTA requirement. Beginning January 20, CBP will initiate a 60-day transition to enforced ESTA compliance for air carriers; VWP travelers without an approved ESTA may not be allowed to board a US-bound plane.
ESTA is an electronic travel authorization that all citizens of VWP countries must obtain prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States under the VWP. ESTA has been mandatory since Jan. 12, 2009 for all nationals of VWP countries traveling to the U.S under the VWP. The requirement does not affect U.S. citizens returning from overseas or citizens of VWP countries traveling on a valid US visa.
ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, and once approved, generally will be valid for up to two years or until the applicant's passport expires, whichever comes first. Authorizations are valid for multiple entries into the U.S. VWP travelers are required to log onto the ESTA Web site and complete an online application.