There are occasions where you forget to complete important paperwork for travel. If you’re planing to travel to the USA – it’s going to be more critical as the US Customs and Border Patrol are now demanding ESTA’s (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) are completed at least 72 hours before travel.
ESTA Site – https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
According to the US CBP, due to changes in ESTA application processing, real-time approvals will no longer be available.
As such, you will need to complete the paperwork at leas 72 hours before departure.
The US Customs and Border patrol state:
Applicants who apply on the same day of their flight’s departure risk not having an approved ESTA prior to their scheduled departure.
International travelers without an approved ESTA will not be authorized to board their flight.
A lot of international travellers travelling on Visa Waiver use ESTA to ensure they are cleared to proceed to immigration when landing. ESTA is used by the US CBP to determining eligibility to travel to the United States whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risks.
As usual, an ESTA isn’t a guaranteed entry into the USA – and you will be inspected by a US DHS/CBP staff/machine to judge your eligibility for entering the USA.
Todd Owen, CBP Executive Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Field Operations states
“Since its implementation in 2007, ESTA has counterbalanced vulnerabilities inherent in visa-free travel by adding a layer of advance scrutiny that enables our officers to focus on the small population of potentially dangerous travelers,”
Plan Ahead Please!
As always, as soon as you get your ticket, please get your ESTA at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. The sooner the paperwork is done, the sooner you can relax and not worry about additional paperwork.
Especially as more countries move towards electronic visa waivers, getting the paperwork done as soon as you’ve booked the ticket will be a better experience all round.
As for the loss of instant approval – it’s annoying to say the least. Least of all you’ll have to check back three days later to see if you’re approved.
But it’s best to get it done sooner – rather than later when you’re at the airport and have that sinking feeling when a check-in agent says “Do you have an ESTA or valid Visa?”
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