ESTA transit in the USA

Does your next flight include a transit at an American airport? Then you need an ESTA travel authorization. We explain what you need to know about ESTA transit in the USA.

Transit through the USA: ESTA required

Even if you do not leave the airport, you need an ESTA authorization for transit through the USA. Also a short stay of a few minutes on the airport premises is already considered entry into the USA - even for a stopover en route to another country!

The practical ESTA (short for "Electronic System for Travel Authorization") enables visa-free entry into the USA. It is available for citizens of a total of 41 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program. These include, for example, most EU countries, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

The uncomplicated ESTA authorization offers many advantages since filling out the application is conveniently done via an online form and only takes a few minutes.

Transit ESTA for the USA: application process

To apply for a transit ESTA for the USA, you will need a valid biometric passport, also known as an e-Passport. When you have it at hand, you can directly start filling out the ESTA application.

After you have entered your personal and contact information in the application form, you will be asked if your trip is a transit to another country. You will answer "Yes" to this question and then continue with the information about your passport, citizenship, and security questions for USA entry.

Please note

You are advised to apply for the transit ETSA at least 72 hours prior to your flight to the United States. This way, you can be sure that the application will be processed in time.

Transit ESTA denied

It is possible that your application for ESTA is rejected even though you are a citizen of a visa waiver country.

The reasons can be:

  • You have dual citizenship from one of the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria.
  • You have been in one of the following countries since March 1st, 2011: Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, or Syria.
  • You have been in Cuba since January 12th, 2021.
  • Your answer to at least one of the security questions in the ESTA application is "Yes" (e.g., due to a criminal record).
  • You have been denied an ESTA application before.
  • You have been denied entry to the USA before.
  • You have made mistakes when filling out the application.

If your transit ESTA is denied, you still have the option to apply for a transit visa (C visa) for your passage in the USA. To do so, you will need to submit a visa application and attend an interview appointment at the US Consulate or US Embassy in your home country. We recommend that you apply for the visa well in advance, i.e., at least four to six weeks before your planned trip.

Cost of a transit ESTA for the USA

The ESTA cost amounts to $ 21 if you submit your application on the official website of the US authorities. Here, you can pay the fee with your credit card (MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discover) or via PayPal.

However, you also have the option of using the help of an ESTA agency at an additional cost. The advantage of doing so is that your application will be thoroughly checked for accuracy and completeness before submission. This way, you can rule out a rejection due to negligence, such as typing errors or forgotten information. In addition, with an agency, other payment methods like direct debit, eps, giropay, Sofortüberweisung, or others are usually available to you.

Tip

Even if you only need an ESTA transit for your upcoming trip, we still recommend that you apply for a regular ESTA for the USA. During the ESTA validity, you are allowed to enter the USA several times. This way, you already have a valid permit in case you decide to make another trip with a longer stay in the USA within this period.