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Do I Need an ESTA Visa to Visit the US?

By Latitude34 @Lat34Travel
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Do I need an ESTA visa to visit the US? 

While Marina and I are both American citizens, there are many countries, mostly throughout Europe and Asia which need to have a valid ESTA visa in order to visit the United States. An easy and fast process, it is a must for many travelers and something that shouldn’t be overlooked on your next trip to the states.

We may not have ever had to submit an application for an ESTA visa, we sure have had our troubles and surprises at various borders around the world. For example, we were surprised to learn when we landed in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that we needed to have $25 in US cash for our arrival visa. Or how about when we arrived in Santiago, Chile where the entrance visa costs over $100 a piece?

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Recently while traveling to Istanbul, Turkey we found out the day before we arrived that we needed to purchase a $20 visa online before we landed in Turkey. All of these are very easy to prepare for, but can be a real pain in the butt if you are caught off guard by them as soon as you land in a new place.

The following countries all need to make sure and apply for an ESTA visa before they arrive in the US: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

The ESTA visa process is quick and easy and can be approved in just a couple of minutes or up to 24 hours, either way most are processed and complete within 24 hours.

All ESTA visa’s are good for 2 years from the date of approval, however you will need to renew if your passport expires during that time. To make your application process quick and easy you will need a valid passport, e-mail address and a credit or debit card.

Read below to find the valid reasons for using an ESTA visa to travel to the USA.

Reasons for Travelling to the United States qualifying for ESTA:

  • tourism
  • vacation (holiday)
  • visiting friends or relatives
  • medical treatment
  • participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social or service organisations
  • participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
  • consult with business associates
  • attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the U.S. with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay)
  • negotiate a contract

Travel Purposes Not Permitted under the Visa Waiver Programme  – Examples:

These are some examples of activities not permitted under the VWP and require nonimmigrant visas for travel to the United States:

  • study, for credit
  • employment
  • work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
  • permanent residence in the United States

So while your trip might be planned from stem to stern with exciting tours, concerts, camping and sightseeing road trips, make sure you’ve got your ESTA visa sorted well before you arrive to plan a seamless and stress free holiday in the USA.

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Images provided from Flickr via VincentWolfgang Staudt and Michael Seljos


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