An ESTA application is a surprisingly easy affair. All you need is your passport. No flight tickets or arrival or departure date are required.
As most Irish travellers know, they are part of a select few countries that don’t need a visa to travel to the USA when staying for 90 days or less, as they are part of the USA’s Visa Waiver Program.
This allows people with Irish nationality to instead travel with an ESTA, which is much easier and faster to apply for compared to a visa.
You don’t need much to apply for an ESTA. In this article, we’ll go over what you do and don’t need to submit an ESTA application.
Do need: a valid passport
The most obvious thing you need to make an ESTA application is a valid passport. However, mistakes with passports frequently happen with ESTA applications.
For example, if you fill in the passport details of a passport that is set to expire before your trip, you won’t be able to amend that once the ESTA has been approved. You’ll need to submit an entirely new application and pay for it anew.
The passport must have been issued by a country that is part of the USA’s Visa Waiver Program. So an Irish passport will suffice, as will a UK passport. If you have passports from multiple countries, you can use the one from one of the valid countries.
Don’t need: a flight ticket
You don’t need to have booked your flight tickets or even know the dates of arrival and departure.
While the ESTA form does ask for an expected arrival date, this can be a (very) rough estimate. Even if you actual arrival date differs from the date you filled in, you can still travel with that same ESTA.
This is because an ESTA is valid for two years and can be used to travel to the USA throughout that period, regardless of the date filled in on the form.
Do need: Social media profiles
Since 2020, US customs has made it mandatory to also fill in any social media profiles you may have. Think Facebook or Twitter, but also business-oriented sites like LinkedIn.
You must fill in the specific username or URL of the profile. This is part of US Customs risk-assessment process and cannot be skipped. Failure to fill it in while having a social media profile may lead to rejection of the ESTA application.
Don’t need: a hotel or other booking confirmation
Just like with the flight tickets, you don’t actually need to know where in the USA you will be staying during your trip. This can also be a rough guess, and if you decide to stay somewhere else, you can still use the same ESTA.
In short, all you need to make an ESTA application is your passport details and some personal information such as social media handles. Many of the fields that require information other than the passport details are either optional or are not set in stone, meaning you can deviate from the information you fill in.