From this Monday (12 January) Australians travelling to the
United States of America will be required to follow new border
All Australian passport-holders eligible to travel to the US
under that country’s Visa Waiver Program must, before
they travel, obtain approval through the US’ Electronic
System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). This also applies
to passport-holders from other countries participating in the
Visa Waiver Program.
ESTA is an online system administered by the United States
Government which determines the preliminary eligibility
of visitors to travel under the Visa Waiver Program prior to
boarding a carrier to the United States. ESTA has been
operating on a voluntary basis since 1 August 2008 and will
become compulsory on 12 January 2009.
The ESTA website is at: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/. Prospective travellers
will be required to provide basic biographic, travel and
eligibility information online in order to receive
authorisation prior to their departure. There is no
charge to complete the application.
Most travellers can expect to receive authorisation within a
few minutes. However, travellers are advised to complete
an ESTA as soon as they begin to plan their travel, and at
least three days in advance, to avoid any last-minute
delays. Travellers who do not have a valid ESTA on or
after 12 January 2009 may be denied boarding, experience
delayed processing or be denied admission at a United States
port of entry. Once granted, electronic pre-clearance
will be valid for up to two years and for multiple-entry visits
to the United States.
It is recommended that travellers keep a print-out or record
of their ESTA application number for reference, if required, at
airports or seaports.
Australian passport-holders who hold a valid visa for travel
to the United States are not required to obtain an ESTA.
For more information, read the Department of Foreign Affairs
and Trade’s travel bulletin “United States-New
Entry Requirements” at www.smartraveller.gov.au which contains more detailed information about ESTA and links
to the relevant US Government websites.
The United States offers a visa information service on 1800
687 844 (charges apply).
What is the Visa Waiver Program?
The Visa Waiver Program allows eligible visitors from
Australia and other participating countries to travel to the
United States for business or pleasure for 90 days or less
without first obtaining a visa.
Media Enquiries: DFAT Media Liaison - 02 6261