You travel to the USA, a visa is not required. Only ESTA is needed

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Judit Llordes
You travel to the USA, a visa is not required. Only ESTA is needed

Applying for an ESTA for the USA is very simple, it only takes 5 minutes

You have to go to the USA? Italy is one of the 39 countries with which, since 1986, the government of United States established the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), under which citizens of these countries can visit the United States without a visa, but must still have a ESTA valid.

In this article we will explain all about ESTA USA.

What is ESTA

ESTA (acronym which stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is an electronic travel authorization essential to board any means of transport, air or sea, bound for the United States.

This authorization is valid for two years, during which multiple trips can be made. Obviously, obtaining the ESTA is subject to some conditions.

What are the requirements to be able to apply for ESTA?

First of all, it is essential (from 1 April 2016) to have a electronic passport (the one with the microchip inserted in the front cover, which since 25 May 2010 also contains the fingerprints of the owner). Then, the reasons for the trip must relate business and / or tourism. Finally, you must be planning to stay in the United States no longer than 90 days, which can be deduced from the return ticket, which is also mandatory.

Who cannot use ESTA?

Nationals cannot use ESTA if they have traveled, since 2011, to North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Also, if they had gods a serious criminal record. Finally, if in the past they have stayed in the States for more than 90 days without a visa. In all these cases it is necessary to apply for an ordinary visa. Likewise, even if you intend to study or work, a visa at a US Consulate in Italy is essential.

I will take my minor children on my trip, what do you need to know?

Basically, every child, even an infant, or a minor, must have a personal passport and their own ESTA in order to enter the United States.

If the minor does not travel with both parents, a consent form (in English) must be provided for the entire trip, including the stay, signed by both parents or by the person exercising parental responsibility.

For more information you can consult the website of State Police, where the accompanying form for minors can be found.

In the United States I only have to stop at the airport, do I need an ESTA?

THEESTA it is also necessary if you are passing through any American airport to another country. In practice, when you land in an American airport, after passport control it is just like entering the USA. For this theESTA for a trip to America is essential.

Does the ESTA automatically entitle you to enter the United States?

Unfortunately not. With the ESTA you are authorized to board a ship or plane bound for the USA, but the person who will decide whether or not to let you into American soil is always the customs officer at the port of arrival.

Travel insurance

It often happens that insurance policies are taken out to protect against unforeseen events that can occur while traveling: from loss to theft of luggage, delays or cancellation of flights, to health insurance. The latter, in the case of the United States, is particularly important. The reason? The health facilities are excellent, this is well known, but the assistance is paid exclusively and can reach enormous figures even for minor interventions.

This is why it is highly recommended to take out a health policy with one of the many online insurance companies. For short trips, fares usually include an outlay of a few tens of euros.

Covid-19 and entry to the United States

The whole world has been, and still is, plagued by the Coronavirus, which has put entire economic sectors in crisis, including that relating to travel.

The United States, of course, was not exempt from it. Indeed, they are among the hardest hit nations on the planet. To date (early December 2020) there have been more than 14 million cases and 276.000 deaths, spread across all states.

An ESTA, if requested today, is valid for two years and is granted with the same speed as always by the American authorities: the Coronavirus has not affected this bureaucratic aspect.

The problem lies, if anything, in the fact that the US government has established a temporary ban on entry for those who have been, in the 14 days prior to departure, in a country considered at health risk by the American authorities.

Among these, Italy is included. On the other hand, those who can enter the United States are citizens resident in the United States and people of American nationality, as well as their spouses and children.

It is not yet clear when it will be possible for nationals to travel for pleasure or business with an ESTA in hand. The evolution of the pandemic is unpredictable. However, it can be said that, since it is valid for two years (730 days), it would be a wise decision to request it now, to be ready when government restrictions are lifted or reduced.

How to apply for USA ESTA online

There are two possible ways. Try the DIY by filling out the relevant form on the government website and following the procedure step by step, wasting some time and with a fair chance of making mistakes or even being unsure what to answer.

Or, let a reputable online agency like An ESTA on this site can be requested 24 hours a day, filling out the relevant form is very easy and takes only 24 minutes per person. The cost is € 5 per person and you can pay with Visa, Mastercard, CartaSi, American Express, Postepay or PayPal.

The request must be made at least 72 hours before departure. In case of urgency, all you have to do is mark the “urgent” option on the form, pay a few euros more and get your ESTA within an hour. warns, however, that it cannot provide any guarantee on delivery times, not even for urgent requests. The sooner you make your request, the better.

For more information, always updated, on the ESTA for the USA, we suggest you consult and site of the Embassy and Consulates of the United States of America in Italy.

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