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March 19, 2010

CBP REMINDS U.S.-BOUND TRAVELERS FROM VISA WAIVER PROGRAM
COUNTRIES TO COMPLETE ONLINE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reminds U.S.-bound travelers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries to register through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to traveling to the United States. Beginning March 20, CBP will end its 60-day transition to enforced ESTA compliance for air carriers; VWP travelers without an approved ESTA may not be allowed to board U.S.-bound aircraft.

ESTA is an electronic travel authorization that all citizens of VWP countries must obtain prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States under the VWP. ESTA has been mandatory since Jan. 12, 2009, for all nationals of VWP countries traveling to the U.S under the VWP. The requirement does not affect U.S. citizens returning from overseas or citizens of VWP countries traveling on a valid U.S. visa.

ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, and once approved, generally are valid for up to two years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Authorizations are valid for multiple entries into the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security recommends that ESTA applications be submitted as soon as an applicant begins making travel plans.

VWP travelers are required to log onto the official ESTA Web site at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ and complete an on-line application. The Web-based system prompts applicants to answer basic biographic and eligibility questions typically requested on a paper I-94W form; ESTA is expected to completely replace the paper I-94W in the coming months. A third party, such as a relative, a friend, or a travel agent, may submit an application on behalf of a VWP traveler.

The ESTA Web site is available in 21 languages: Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish.

For more information about ESTA, please visit www.cbp.gov/ESTA.