What is a US Travel Authorization? Who needs it?
This is for our international readers who want to visit the US.
If you are a citizen of one of the countries who does not need a visa...
The 35 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program...
You will now need to obtain an authorization from US the Department of Homeland Security.
This is called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
This program has been a voluntary program for the last few months, but it is now mandatory.
The Visa Waiver Program allows foreign nationals from certain countries to travel to the US for business or pleasure, for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.
There are currently 35 countries which participate in this program as of this writing....
The Department of Homeland Security issued this advisory about ESTA...
They have set up a secure website for electronic application for this US Travel Authorization.
We'll send you to the US Customs and Border Patrol's page about ESTA. Click on "Apply here" for the electronic application.
There is currently no fee to apply for a US travel authorization, but the government says that there may be an application fee in the future.
Travel authorizations are valid for two years from the date of authorization, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
You will be asked for your name, birthdate, country of citizenship, home address, the usual passport information, where you will be staying in the U.S. and how you are arriving if you know.
They also ask if you have a communicable disease...
....or are a drug user,
....if you have been arrested for certain crimes and on and on.
If you get a new passport or information on your passport changed (like if you get married and change your name) you will need to apply for a new travel authorization.
If you receive a "Travel Not Authorized" response to your application...
...you may apply for a visa.
The government says...
We're just informing you about the new law.
For complete information, go to the website listed above.
To be an international traveler, you need to stay alert to all the changes that are going on around the world.
In this case, it's another layer of documentation to worry about.
To our fellow US citizens, you should stay alert too.
With this new law implemented, there may very well be reciprocal requirements applied to us -- US citizens -- to travel to the countries that are affected.
It all seems to add to the hassles of travel, but don't let it stop you from exploring the world.
We believe the world is a better place when more of us travel and get to know one another.
So just stay alert for any new government regulations and keep on traveling.