(Electronic System for Travel Authorization)
ESTA is an electronic registration system requiring travelers who are part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) – 36 countries including Belgium – to register before boarding a plane or cruise ship destined for the United States.
The required ESTA registration entered into force on January 12, 2009 and a processing fee of 14USD is being charged since September 8, 2010 (payment by credit or debit card). Registration may be done by third parties (travel agencies, family, friends).
Registration should preferably be done 72 hours prior to the beginning of a trip but it is in principle possible to register at any moment before departure. A last minute departure for the United States will always be possible.
Registration is valid for 2 years and for multiple entries. It is possible to bring your data up-to-date at any time. An answer will be given immediately in the majority of cases.
The person who does not receive authorization will need to go to an embassy or a consulate to apply for a visa. The ESTA authorization does not mean moreover that access to the United States is guaranteed.
The ESTA program does not apply to Belgians who are holders of a visa for the United States. Registration should be done on the following official site: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.