ESTA: What are the changes to the new form?

Are you applying for ESTA to travel to the United States? Learn more about the benefits of the new Electronic System for Travel Authorization form.

It’s your passport to Uncle Sam’s country. The ESTA – or Electronic System for Travel Authorization – is a prerequisite for a short stay in the United States. One of its aims is to update the Visa Waiver Program. No matter what your travel profile! The principle is simple: at least 72 hours before your departure, you need to fill in a form available on the official website of the Department of Homeland Security.

Since its introduction in 2009, the form in question has undergone a number of changes to enhance the security of the procedure. What are these changes? What are the benefits? Here’s an update on the latest changes.

ESTA: How does it work?


While the traditional visa application is made at a consulate,ESTA has opted for a 2.0 procedure, with the introduction of an online form. Simpler and quicker, the new method enables authorization requests to be validated in less than 24 hours. To make sure you receive your authorization on time, we strongly recommend you submit your request at least 72 hours before departure.

First and foremost, you’ll need a biometric or electronic passport valid for the duration of your stay (you’ll be asked for the passport number and country of issue), and a credit card.

The steps to apply are as follows:

  • Log on to the official website
  • Go to the form request
  • Share your personal information
  • Answer the « eligibility questions » (including whether you have committed any felonies, major misdemeanors, why you are traveling to the U.S., etc.).
  • Validate your information
  • Proceed to ESTA payment

Good to know:

– Would you like more information to help you plan your next trip to the United States? Click here

– If you have traveled to Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya or Yemen since 2011, you will not be able to obtain an ESTA: you will need to apply for a Visa to land on American soil.

New form: what’s new

Further questions

For safety’s sake, the procedure is strengthened over time with a greater number of questions. While they may seem inquisitive, their main purpose is to obtain a better assessment of each profile. That’s why, since 2014, you’re also required to fill in :

  • Your other names
  • Your other citizenship
  • Your parents’ names
  • Contact information in the U.S., such as telephone number, e-mail address, contact points…
  • Employment information if you’re visiting on business
  • Your town of birth

These questions are in addition to the 9  » admissibility questions  » which aim to determine whether you represent a risk in terms of crimes, offenses, transmissible diseases… If your answers are marked « yes », needless to say your application will be rejected.

A social media section

Since December 2015 and with the aim of further protecting American soil from foreign terrorists, a new law has come into force. Requirements have been added to the Visa Waiver Program criteria, inducing new rules for ESTA.

In addition to the additional questions, the new form includes a new section – currently optional – concerning social networks. In this section, you are asked to provide your personal profile details for each social network on which you are registered.

This new information will enable the Department of Homeland Security to carry out the necessary legal checks, based on the information available on each applicant’s social networks. The aim? According to the authorities, the introduction of this new section makes it easier to locate terrorist groups, who frequently use social networks to communicate and penetrate American soil.

Strengthening the form: benefits

Each change tends to improve the ESTA application procedure. These enhanced measures highlight four main advantages:

  • No physical interview
  • Simplified procedure
  • Faster delivery
  • Enhanced safety and protection

Need more information? Click here to find out more about compulsory travel authorization.