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What is ESTA and how to obtain it for travel to USA?

To travel to the United States of America, it is necessary to obtain a visa that allows you to enter the country. For this reason, we are going to take a closer look at one of them: the ESTA document.


What is the ESTA document?

The ESTA document, also known by the definition of its acronym Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is a legal authorization to travel to the United States. Thus, the ESTA document is issued by the authorities of the country when it has been applied for.

Its application and delivery is done telematically, that is to say, through the Internet. This fact is considered one of the greatest advantages to obtain this document, since it is not necessary to fill in any paper or wait to receive it physically.

Thus, on websites such as, you can complete all the procedures electronically to obtain your ESTA document.

In order to go deeper into this document, in this post, we are going to deal with two aspects: on the one hand, when is it necessary to apply for this document; and, on the other hand, how to obtain it.

Without forgetting that it is always extremely important to check how long the is esta valid.

When is it mandatory to apply for the ESTA document?

As we have already mentioned, the ESTA document is required to enter the United States. However, in some cases, only the ESTA document is required and in others, a traditional visa is necessary.

In this case, we are going to specify on which occasions it is mandatory to obtain the ESTA to enter the country.

First of all, the ESTA document will be mandatory for all trips lasting less than three months, whatever the purpose of the trip. This can range from business to tourism.

Secondly, it will be mandatory for citizens of countries belonging to the so-called ESTA device or Visa Waiver Program. These member countries are: Germany, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, South Korea, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Malta, Hungary, Taiwan, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Latvia, Norway, Sint Maarten, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Lithuania and Greece. There are 37 countries that are part of this device, and, as can be seen, Spain is one of them.

It is important to note that it is not necessary that the country of origin matches the country of residence, for example, a Spanish citizen residing in Argentina can apply for ESTA without any problem.

Furthermore, it is important to consider that citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries who have travelled in insecure countries such as Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan and Syria may not be considered eligible to apply for ESTA at embassies.

Thirdly, it will be mandatory for both adults and minors.

Thus, the three conditions under which the ESTA document must be applied for are clear. It should also be added that it is renewed every two years and that a valid passport is required to apply for it.


How is the ESTA document obtained?

The official ESTA document can be obtained in several ways. On the one hand, on the official ESTA website, or, on the other hand, on the websites of intermediaries, which facilitate, on many occasions, the application process.

Either one way or the other, to apply for the ESTA, you must fill in a form that asks for information such as the reasons for your trip to the United States, your identity and passport number.

It is therefore advisable to collect all the information you need before proceeding with the application.

In order to obtain the document in time, it is recommended that you apply for the ESTA document at least 72 hours before your trip to the United States.

Once you have completed the form and finished the application, you must pay for the application by credit or debit card.

Finally, if everything goes smoothly, you will receive an e-mail in less than 72 hours with the validated authorization of the ESTA document. With this authorization already granted, you must save or print it in order to present it together with the file number at the country's border upon arrival.