Wednesday 14 January 2009

New US Travel Authorisation Requirements

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has reminded travellers intending to enter the USA, that a new requirement for advance travel authorisation came into effect from January 12th, 2009.

Applying for the new advance travel authorisation is reasonably straightforward (by US standards) involving answering some questions online. From early in the New Year, US authorities will be entitled to refuse access to any Irish visitor who does not have the new travel authorisation. Even so, reports indicate that’s application rate for the new travel authorisation is very low compared with other EU countries.

Simon Nugent, ITAA Chief Executive, commented:

“This new system is nothing to worry about. For many years, people who have travelled to the have been asked to fill in a form during the flight or at immigration in Dublin or Shannon airport. The online ESTA system asks for the same information, just in advance of the trip.

“Many Irish travellers tend to leave formalities to the last minute and ESTA seems to be no exception with reports that our application rate is very low compared to other EU countries. Whilst the vast majority of applications from Visa Waiver Countries are approved instantly, less than half of one per cent of applicants are turned down for one reason or another. If you find yourself in this category then you will need to apply for a visa, and this does take time. That is why we recommend that you and your passport sit down together over the New Year break and apply for ESTA even if you are not sure you will be going to the this year. Once your ESTA is approved it will be valid for two years or until your passport expires, allowing you to travel back and forth to the freely.

“Getting your travel authorisation using the ESTA website is 100% free. However, online companies have sprung up offering to process requests for travel authorisation for a fee, in some cases up to $50! This is an attempt to ‘mug’ travellers online, who may not be aware that the process costs nothing.

“Don’t pay good money for a service that the US Government is giving away for free. The genuine ESTA website is operated by the Department of Homeland Security website and – most importantly – it won’t ask you for any money. The ITAA is advising travellers to apply for travel authorisation direct at http://cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/esta/

“The advice from the ITAA advice is clear – if you are travelling to the USA from January 12th, 2009, make sure to get your ESTA travel authorisation well in advance. Set aside ten minutes over the holiday period to log on and sort it out. And, to make sure you have the right ESTA website, log onto www.itaa.ie and follow the link.”

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2 comments:

Laurent said...

HEllo

The big question is also : is the ESTA procedure the same thing as filling up the form on board ?

In one case indeed, the information are retained. On this French blog (I'm French) : http://www.expatriation.com/etats-unis-formulaire-esta-probleme-erreur.html
I also read that the procedure was double-cheched by the handing over of personal data (PNR) from airlines to the DHS.

So... Is the esta procedure really necessary ?

Laurent said...

HEllo

The big question is also : is the ESTA procedure the same thing as filling up the form on board ?

In one case indeed, the information are retained. On this French blog (I'm French) : http://www.expatriation.com/etats-unis-formulaire-esta-probleme-erreur.html I also read that the procedure was double-cheched by the handing over of personal data (PNR) from airlines to the DHS.

So... Is the esta procedure really necessary ?