Is an ESTA visa the same as a US visa?

ESTA is not a visa. An ESTA registration does not meet the legal requirements of the US with regard to visas. Travellers who possess a valid visa for the US may travel there on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. Travellers in possession of a valid visa do not need to register for an additional ESTA authorisation. Travellers should be aware that neither a valid US visa nor an ESTA “visa” is a guarantee of admission to the US.

Do UK citizens require an ESTA travel authorisation?

Since January 12, 2009, all UK citizens entering the US under the VWP have been required to apply for an ESTA “visa”. They must also have a valid, machine-readable passport. UK travellers without a valid ESTA registration, or a valid US Visitor Visa will not be allowed to board any US-bound flight. The US government recommends that all UK applicants apply for an ESTA travel authorisation at least 72 hours prior to travelling to the US.

Who qualifies to travel to the United States without a visa?

Citizens of the Visa Waiver Countries may travel to the US without a tourist visa. There are certain restrictions to the VWP; however, its principal advantage is that no visa needs to be obtained in advance. If you are a UK citizen holding a UK passport, you can apply through the ESTA online to visit the US for up to 90 days for tourism, business or medical reasons, without the need to apply for a visa.

The following countries are in the VWP: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

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Note: If you are not a citizen of one of the countries listed as Visa Waiver Countries, you need to apply for a regular USA Tourist Visa.

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