Travelling to the United States of America:
Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)
Visitors may be aware that the USA has changed its entry procedures for travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver Programme and has introduced ESTA. With effect from January 20th 2010, online completion of ESTA, plus its approval, is mandatory ahead of travel, for all Visa Waiver Programme travellers. Visa Waiver Programme travellers arriving in the USA without such approval, risk possible immediate deportation.
ESTA applications should be submitted as soon as travel arrangements are made. It is recommended that the application is submitted at least 72 hours before departure, however the system will accommodate last minute travel. You can apply directly from the ESTA site.
The ESTA is valid for a period of 2 years from the date of approval unless the traveller’s passport expires during that period in which case a new ESTA application is required. From September 8th 2010 onwards, a charge of US $14 applies for each ESTA and can be paid for using major credit cards.
Traveller’s should be aware that no other charges apply for completion of an ESTA. However several official looking websites offer ESTA services for which an unnecessary charge is made. These sites are not approved by the US Government and should be avoided at all times.
It's easy to apply - customers can provide the information on their PC or most internet ready mobile phones at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov
Which countries participate in the visa waiver scheme?
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy,Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Malta, San Marino, Singapore,Slovakia Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom (not passports endorsed British Subjects).
Passport, Visa and health requirements are the sole responsibility of the guest to obtain. Guests who do not possess the proper documentation may be prevented from boarding the flight or vessel without refund.
The US Embassy in London has some useful FAQs and other information.
The ESTA website also has further information at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov