Home TRAVEL TIPS Is the ESTA Free For UK Citizens? What You Need To Know

Is the ESTA Free For UK Citizens? What You Need To Know

Image by Felix Dilly

Many British citizens have dreamed of taking a holiday across the pond. With 50 states and hundreds of interesting cities to explore, traveling to the United States is a bucket list goal for many intrepid travelers and families.

However, before packing your bags and buying an airline ticket, it’s important to consider the current entry requirements for the USA.

In this article, you’ll find out more information about the simplified ESTA travel document, including the process, the ESTA cost, and the basic requirements needed to apply.

Why Do UK Citizens Need An ESTA?

From visiting world-famous cities like New York or Los Angeles to enjoying a weekend outdoors, making your way along Route 66, or exploring the dozens of national parks, travelers will need to enter the United States first before they can start working through their US bucket list.

This is where the ESTA comes in. Also known by its official name, the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization, this travel authorization was created to avoid the hassle of applying for a traditional visa and simplify entry requirements for citizens of eligible countries. Currently, there are 40 countries eligible to apply for an ESTA, including citizens of the United Kingdom.

UK citizens will need their ESTA to seamlessly enter the United States.

Likewise, instead of going to a US embassy or consulate in-person, British nationals are able to apply for their ESTA entirely over the internet.

What Is The ESTA Application Process?

The ESTA application process is very simple and straightforward. The entire process takes about 15 minutes and can be done from any device with an internet connection, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Travelers will only need a few basic documents to apply for an ESTA, including their United Kingdom passport, a valid email address, and a form of payment.

The ESTA form asks a handful of questions about the applicant, including their personal information (first and last name, gender, date of birth), passport data (serial number, issue and expiration date), and contact information (home address, email address).

There will also be a special section that asks questions pertaining to the applicant’s health history and criminal background. These questions are part of the ESTA application as a way for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to keep both locals and visitors safe.

How Much Does The ESTA Cost For UK Citizens?

At the moment, the ESTA costs $14 USD, as well as a processing fee to submit the application.

After applicants finish filling out the ESTA form, they will be directed to the payment screen. Here, travelers can pay their ESTA fee with any major payment methods, including a debit or credit card issued by MasterCard, VISA, Discover, and so on.

Each traveler who submits an ESTA application will need to pay their own fee. For example, if a family of three British citizens each needs an ESTA, they will need to pay $42 total ($14 x 3) plus the processing fee.

After paying the fee, applicants will typically get their approved ESTA instantly in their email inbox. However, there may sometimes be delays due to high volumes of applications. In these cases, travelers may have to wait up to 72 hours (3 days) to receive their ESTA. Due to this, travelers are encouraged to apply for their ESTA well ahead of their trip to the United States.

What Are The Benefits Of The ESTA?

Once approved, the ESTA comes with many benefits for its holder.

For example, travelers can stay in the United States for up to 90 days at a time using their ESTA. The travel authorization is good for entering the US for different purposes, including tourism, business, and transit. It is valid for entry by air or by sea, for example, on a commercial flight or cruise.

Best of all, the ESTA is valid for 2 years from the date of issue and is a multiple-entry document. This means that British nationals can use their ESTA to visit the USA as many times as they wish as long as it is under 90 days and within the ESTA’s 2 year validity period.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the ESTA expires when the holder’s UK passport expires. If your passport is expiring soon, it may be worth it to renew first and then apply for an ESTA.

Thanks to the ESTA, traveling to the USA has never been easier. British citizens can enjoy up to 3 months in the United States, which gives them plenty of time to tick off once-in-a-lifetime bucket list opportunities.

Will you learn more about the country at one of the 12 no-admission museums on the National Mall, take a cross-country road trip from the east to the west coast, or simply soak up the sun at Huntington Beach? The choice is yours!