Visiting the USA: ESTA and the Visa Waiver Program

For me personally, visiting the United States is just one of my favourite things to do. I am never short on surprises when I visit, especially with the hugely varied cultures and landscapes of North America. One issue that I hear from people is that visiting there as a tourist is difficult. Let me begin by saying that this is just not true with the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). Today I will talk about this great program that allows people to visit the USA and how you can get one.


What is it?

The VWP allows people from certain countries to enter the United States of America as a tourist, without a specific visa. This is great for those that just want to go to America and visit all the wonderful attractions there.

What countries are eligible?

There are 38 countries that are eligible under the VWP and these are:

The United Kingdom, Taiwan, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, South Korea, Slovenia, Slovakia, Singapore, San Marino, Republic of Malta, Portugal, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Monaco, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Japan, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Greece, Germany, Hungary, France, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Czech Republic, Chili, Brunei, Belgium, Austria, Australia and Andorra.


In order to take advantage of the VWP, the ESTA is required before traveling to the USA. The US government create the ESTA as a way to fully automate the VWP. The authorisation for travel lasts for 2 years and each trip that you make to the USA can last up to 90 days in length. Despite what many people believe, this allows you to make multiple trips in a two year period.

This is absolutely something that you need to have before you leave and in my experience many airlines will refuse to let you board without having the ESTA. Otherwise an appropriate visa is required to enter the United States.

How to get the ESTA?

I have visited the USA a few times already and I have found the best way to use a great service like I have also tried it on my own, but it was a little bit of a stressful process. For someone with not a lot of time I found it easier to use instead and it took all the stress away from doing the long and intensive questionnaire that the ESTA involves. I love to travel, but by no means am I an expert when it comes to immigration law, so I find that it is better to leave it to the professionals. Here are a few other things I love about using this

  • Fast – I have used it a few times before and the longest it took was about 20 minutes, and the shortest was about 5 minutes! For the
  • The money back guarantee – There really isn’t any risk from using the service, because if your application is denied you will simply get your money back. That for me is the ultimate peace of mind.
  • Experts – After completing thousands of applications, has established themselves as a very professional company that knows a lot about the visa process and their very high success rate (over 95%!) simply speaks for itself.
  • The service is great for foreigners – There are so many people from so many different countries that want to visit the USA and these people may not speak the best English. Having native English speakers dealing with the process makes it much easier to get the right outcome for your ESTA application

If I visit dangerous countries, can I get an Esta?

NO! If you visit Yemen, Afghanistan etc, even if you’re from an Esta-friendly country, the ESTA is no longer possible. Don’t worry though. It’s easy to fix. One visit to an American embassy with your passport, explain your travels (5 minutes), and they’ll issue you a 10-year multi-entry visa instead. I did this recently in Bangkok.


Getting an ESTA and traveling to the States really does not need to be difficult. Hopefully this little guide gave you a nice insight into the ESTA and VWP and the best way to take advantage of this great program. Happy travels in the USA and stay safe!

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