When it comes to traveling to the USA, even citizens of countries with visa waivers need to do some things to make sure that they are in the country legally. One of these is filling out the information held in the Electronic System For Travel Authorization, known as ESTA for short. This system asks a couple of personal questions, requires basic information from your passport, and a small fee to ensure that you are eligible to enter the USA. This information is then available to customs agents as you enter the country, making the process quicker than it used to be, and making sure everything is in order. More about ESTA USA for Spanish citizens.
To fill it out you will need your passport, a credit card that you can make online payments with, and information about where you work or live. You should also have the information about your trip at hand, particularly the dates you are going to be in the country and the locations you wish to visit. Once you enter all of the information for your trip you will receive an answer within just a few seconds, although when there is heavy demand the system may take a few hours to return an answer.
Most people should apply 72 hours before travel, but you can apply at any time, even if you don’t have travel planned yet. The ESTA itself is valid for 2 years, so you don’t need to fill it out again if you come back. You will need to make sure that each stay is less than 90 days and that you are meeting all other requirements of your visa free status. If you are going on a trip that will have you in the country past the 2 year expiration date, you may be asked to complete a new form before you are allowed into the country.
if you get a new passport, change anything on your passport, commit a crime, or get a contagious disease that restricts air travel, you will need to fill out a new form. There may be different restrictions or a longer waiting time when you do this. However, almost all applications are processed within 2 days, even those that are done manually. To be safe, you should apply at least 3 to 4 days early when changing your status and should be ready to prove the information you have provided when you enter the country.