ESTA denied

Has your ESTA application been denied? No panic! We will show you how you can still travel to the USA. Learn about ESTA denial reasons, objection procedures, and alternative travel options.


Die offizielle Einreisegenehmigung für die USA!

What is ESTA?

The electronic travel authorization system ESTA was introduced by the US government to subject international visitors to an automatic security check before entering the USA.

Thanks to the digitized and fully automated ESTA process, the electronic travel authorization is much easier, cheaper, and faster to obtain than a US visa from the embassies and consulates.

An ESTA is usually only denied by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) if the traveler fails to meet the ESTA requirements or makes a mistake in the application process.

What are the ESTA requirements?

For your ESTA application to be approved, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You are a citizen of a country that does not require a visa for the United States (member countries of the “Visa Waiver Program”).
  • You are in possession of a valid biometric passport (e-Passport).
  • Your passport is valid at least until the end of your trip to the USA (depending on your nationality, a longer validity may be necessary).
  • You plan to stay in the USA for a maximum of 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
  • You have no criminal record, no serious contagious diseases, and do not pose a threat to the security of the United States.
  • You plan neither to start working in the USA nor to immigrate.
  • You have never been denied an ESTA or visa, nor have you ever violated US immigration laws.
  • You have not traveled to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen as of March 1st, 2011, and have not been to Cuba since January 12th, 2021.
  • You do not hold dual citizenship of Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

If you do not meet the ESTA requirements mentioned here and still submit an ESTA application, it will most likely be denied.

ESTA application denied: common reasons

Despite all caution with the ESTA application, it can happen that your travel authorization is denied. As a rule, you will not be told the reasons for an ESTA rejection, as the CBP is not obliged to inform you about them.

However, you can explore the most common reasons for ESTA refusals in the exclusion process and compare them with your personal case. Possible reasons for the denial of ESTA authorizations are:

  • Errors in the ESTA application (e.g., incomplete information, incorrect answers to the ESTA security questions, or typos, e.g., in the passport number)
  • A previous denial of a visa or ESTA application for travel to the United States
  • A previous violation of US immigration laws (e.g., by an “overstay”)
  • A previous arrest or conviction
  • Current or previous terrorist activity or affiliation with terrorist organizations
  • Current or past connections to drugs or human trafficking
  • Health problems that could pose a threat to US public health

Beware of the entry ban!

If you provide false or misleading information on your ESTA application, you will be denied entry to the United States. Also, deliberately providing false information can lead to criminal charges and a permanent entry ban.

Prevent ESTA denial

To avoid having your ESTA application denied, make every effort to do the following:

  • Apply for an electronic passport in good time.
  • Make sure your passport meets the ESTA requirements for your nationality (e.g., travelers not from Six Month Club countries must have a passport valid for six months beyond the intended date of arrival).
  • Make sure that all the information on your ESTA application is complete and that the personal information you provide matches the information on your passport.
  • Don't commit crimes.
  • Avoid contact with terrorist organizations or drug trafficking.

If unsure, you can enlist the help of a trusted ESTA agency to help you submit an error-free ESTA application and provide you with additional reassurance.

ESTA denied: do I get my money back?

If you submitted your ESTA application on the US government website and it is denied, your credit card or PayPal account will not be credited the full ESTA costs of $ 21, but only a $ 4 processing fee will be deducted.
When working with ESTA agencies, you can protect yourself with a money-back guarantee. In the unlikely event of an ESTA rejection despite the involvement of an ESTA agency, you will be reimbursed your average service fee of € 60.

ESTA denied: apply again?

After the rejection of your ESTA application, you will first be excluded from the ESTA system for visa-free travel to the USA. Instead of applying for a second ESTA, we recommend applying for a US visa and researching the reasons for the refusal by contacting the CBP and, if unsuccessful, using the TRIP program.

Objecting to an ESTA refusal

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection first encourages travelers with denied ESTA applications to contact and use the “Ask a Question” option. However, the “Ask a Question” section is difficult to find, sending ESTA applicants on a wild goose chase.

The solution: You can now find the option under After clicking on the "Ask us a Question" button, you can select a topic in the form, enter your email address plus screenshots and write a message.

In your message to CBP, explain your problem (e.g., why you answered "yes" to any of the security questions and why there was a misunderstanding) and ask for clarification on the next steps.

If you are stuck on this path and still believe that your ESTA application was denied without reason, you can use the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) to have the decision reviewed.

TRIP is a program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that allows travelers to receive information about why they may be affected by security measures and how they can end those measures.

You can also use TRIP if you are denied entry to the USA despite a valid ESTA approval. However, the program offers no guarantee that the CBP's decision will be changed.
A link to the TRIP website will be provided to you with a notification of your ESTA denial. The question and answer or complaint process may take some time. Therefore, in the meantime, we recommend applying for a US visa so that you can continue with your travel plans.

ESTA refusal FAQ

Do you have further questions about ESTA denials? Then you will surely find what you are looking for in our FAQ.

What is a good alternative to ESTA in case of denial?

An alternative to ESTA is to apply for a US visitor visa (B-2 for tourists or B-1 for business travelers). However, you should allow several weeks for this, as visa approvals take much longer than ESTA approvals.

Why is a “Yes” answer to the ESTA security questions so bad?

ESTA is an automated screening of travelers with no gray areas. If you have the flu and answer the question about your state of health with "Yes" because you don’t know better, your ESTA will be denied, even though the flu is not a reason for rejection. If you are unsure about answering the ESTA security questions, it is better to seek the help of an ESTA agency.

ESTA denied: Can I still travel to the USA?

If your ESTA application is denied and you still want to travel to the USA, you must apply for a visa at the US embassy or consulate. Visit the US Department of State website to learn more about the application process.

Can I still correct errors in the ESTA application?

It is important that you carefully check that the information in your ESTA application is correct and complete before submitting it. ESTA applications, once submitted, can only be corrected to a limited extent.

You can use the ESTA status query to correct inaccurate information on security questions or contact details shortly after sending. However, in other cases (such as an incorrect passport number), you must immediately reapply to avoid refusal.

You can change your first overnight address in the USA and your email address as often as you like after the ESTA approval within the two-year validity period.

I have a valid ESTA, but I am still refused entry. What can I do?

Whether you are allowed to enter the USA after landing is decided neither by an approved visa nor your ESTA permit but by the border staff at the airport. There are different reasons why travelers are not allowed into the country. Again, the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) can help clarify this.