Florida Guide > Travelling
New Visa Waiver Programme
Many previous visitors to the United States from other countries including Great Britain will be used to filling in a green form on the plane to be handed in after landing. This resulted in many cries of “has anybody got a spare pen? ” or “oh no! I’ve made a mistake, can I have another form please? ” ! !
Well, not anymore there is a new system now in place which should make things very much easier called the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation.
It is best to complete the procedure as soon as you can. You don’t even need to have your flights and accommodation booked as you can go back and update that information later. Just go to the esta. gov website where you can fill in the few short questions on line; same type of simple questions as were on the green form such as your full name, passport details, where you are going to be staying in the USA etc. It is very simple to complete the form.
In most cases you will receive a positive reply to your application within seconds with an ‘Authorization approved’ status. It is possible that if you have not included your full travel details as yet that you may get an “Authorization Pending” status but this just means that you will need to check back with the site within 72 hours to receive a final response.
However in the unlikely event that you receive a “Travel not Authorized” status you will need to contact the US Embassy to obtain a Visa. If you already have a visa then you don’t need to apply for this scheme but if you have ever been denied a visa then you cannot apply using this system either.
The other good thing about the new system is that the authorisation is valid for two years (unless your passport expires prior to that); a good excuse for several return trips! And it’s free!
If there is anything that you are not sure about just go to the website where there is lots more useful information. There are also agents who can fill in the application on your behalf but it really isn’t necessary as it’s such a simple procedure.
All in all it is a big improvement to the old manual system but it is very important that you don’t overlook it and remember everyone must apply. Failure to apply will likely mean that you won’t even be allowed on the plane and when your destination is sunny Florida that would be a disaster! ! !
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Page added on: 13 January 2009
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