The United States Department of Homeland Security announced that, after 8th September 2010, a fee will be charged to travelers under the Visa Waiver Program. This fee will be charged when travelers use the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The charge will be 14.00 dollars and the authorization shall be valid for two years and can be used for multiple trips to the United States.

All passengers wishing to enter the U.S.A under the Visa Waiver Program must first obtain a authorization through the website and attach to the passport.

What is it?

An automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
It is not a visa. It is a new requirement of the Visa Waiver Program.

Who needs it?

Citizens or nationals of VWP countries* who plan to enter the United States without a visa by air or sea for temporary business or pleasure.
*Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zeland, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

Who doesn’t need it?

Anyone who is traveling to the United States with a visa;
Anyone who is entering the United States by land;
Citizens of Bermuda, Canada, the Marshall Islands or Micronesia.

When do they need it?

Mandatory for all VWP travelers entering the U.S. without a visa on or after 12 January 2009.
We encourage travelers to apply for it as soon as they make their travel plans.

How to get it?

By internet:
Provide basic biographical information and answer the same questions that are on the I-94W form.

The ESTA Response

Most travelers will receive an answer almost immediately.
There are 3 possible responses:
Authorization Approved / Pending / Not Authorized.

What if the ESTA response is pending?

Applicants who receive a response of “Authorization Pending” should check the website again in the next 3 days, using their ESTA application number.

What if the ESTA is denied?

If someone receives a response of ESTA DENIED:
They should come to the Consulate to apply for a nonimmigrant visa.
The ESTA website will not explain why the application was denied.
During a visa interview, the Consul may be able to explain why the ESTA was denied.
The Consulate will not be able to provide information about ESTA denials until the traveler applies for a visa.

And if the ESTA is approved what happens next?

An approved ESTA application is valid to make unlimited trips for 2 years, (or until the passport expiration, whichever is shorter).
It is not necessary to carry a printout of the ESTA approval, but it’s a good idea to keep a copy of your application number for personal records.

Travelers must request a new ESTA if:

Their name changes;
They obtain a new passport;
They will travel with a different passport than the one they listed on their ESTA application;
Any of the answers they provided in their application have changed (for example, a new criminal conviction).

What if a traveler doesn’t have an electronic authorization?

VWP travelers who have not received an approved ESTA prior to travel may be:
Denied boarding;
Experience delayed processing upon arrival;
Denied admission at the U.S. port of entry.

Summary: Visa Waiver Program travel requirements

  1. Must have a machine-readable passport (Portuguese passport issued after 2001);
  2. Travel for up to 90 days on temporary business or pleasure;
  3. Round-trip ticket or ticket for onward departure;
  4. Arrival on qualified carrier;  and
  5. Beginning 12 January 2009: Must have an approved electronic travel authorization from ESTA before traveling.


More information:
Ponta Delgada Consulate:
U.S. Embassy in Lisbon:
Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection website:
Department of State website about the Visa Waiver Program: