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ESTA Visa Waiver Program

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

Important Reminder on the Visa Waiver Program/ESTA and Travel to the United States:

 The U.S. Embassy in Iceland wishes to remind all Icelanders who are able to travel to the United States via the Visa Waiver Program that as of 01 April 2016, they must have a valid electronic passport.  This rule applies even to those who possess a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).  The U.S. Embassy in Iceland strongly recommends that all travelers check to ensure their passports are valid electronic passports before they make arrangements to travel to the United States on the Visa Waiver Program.

You can check if your passport is valid for travel under the VWP by carefully reading the following page:  https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html.

Any traveler who does not have a valid electronic passport is still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid nonimmigrant visa issued by a U.S. embassy or consulate. Such travelers will be required to appear for an interview and obtain a visa in their passports at a U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling to the United States.  Information on visa applications can be found at:

http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html.

On January 21, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State announced changes to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to comply with recent legislation. You can read the full text of this announcement on the U.S. Department of State website.

  • The great majority of Visa Waiver Program travelers from Iceland who use ESTA will not be affected by these changes.
  • The new law does not ban travel to the United States or ban admission into the United States, it requires certain individuals to now apply in person for visas instead of using ESTA.
  • Dual nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria will now need to apply in person at the U.S. Embassy for visas.
  • If you have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan and/or Syria on or after March 1, 2011, you may now need to apply in person for a visa. There are some exemptions to this policy; please contact the U.S. Embassy at ReykjavikConsular@state.gov to inquire whether you may qualify for an exemption.
  • You can also check your ESTA status at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

If you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program partner but have received notice that you are no longer eligible to travel to the United States under that program, you should apply for a nonimmigrant visa at least three months in advance of your desired travel.  If you do not have imminent travel plans, you should fill out the DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application form at ceac.state.gov/genniv/, and schedule a visa appointment.  If your travel is imminent, you must still complete the nonimmigrant visa application online and may request an expedited visa appointment by following the procedure found here.  Please include in your request the date and purpose of your travel, as well as a copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection message you received regarding your ESTA status.   

For additional information on the Visa Waiver Program, please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website

 WARNING: ARE YOU OVERPAYING FOR YOUR ESTA??  Visa Waiver Program travelers should be aware that unauthorized third-parties have established web sites which charge visitors for information about ESTA and for submitting ESTA applications on behalf of the traveler. Some of these business charge $75 or more to process an ESTA! The cost of an ESTA through the official website is $14. We urge you to only use the official website to apply for your ESTA. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) site is easy to use and available in 16 languages, including Icelandic.

YOU SHOULD NOT BUY NON-REFUNDABLE PLANE TICKETS UNTIL YOU HAVE A VALID ESTA!

We recommend that applications be submitted no less than 72 hours prior to travel, and we urge you not to buy an airline ticket until you have an approved ESTA or a visa.  

Please read all questions carefully! If you have been arrested, but the arrest took place years ago and has since been removed from your Icelandic Criminal Record, you are still required to answer “yes” when asked if you have ever been arrested. Failure to answer all questions accurately may result in you being denied entry into the United States, and having to return to Iceland on the next available flight.

Once you submit the ESTA request, in most cases you will receive a response within seconds:

  • Authorization Approved: Travel authorized.
  • Travel Not Authorized: Traveler must obtain a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before traveling to the U.S.
  • Authorization Pending: Traveler will need to check the ESTA Web site for updates within 72 hours to receive a final response.

An Approved Travel Authorization via ESTA is:

  • Valid, unless revoked, for up to two years or until the traveler's passport expires, whichever comes first; if you replace your passport, you would need to re-apply for ESTA.
  • Valid for multiple entries into the U.S. As future trips are planned, or if an your destination addresses or itineraries change after their authorization has been approved, you may easily update that information through the ESTA Web site; and
  • Not a guarantee of admissibility to the United States at a port of entry. ESTA approval only authorizes a traveler to board a carrier for travel to the U.S. under the VWP. (For additional information, please visit "For International Visitors" at www.CBP.gov/travel.)

Eligible Countries:

Countries currently enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program include:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, The Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, The Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The United Kingdom.

You may also enter the United States overland from Canada and Mexico without a visa.  Once you enter the United States, you may make side trips to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean islands and return without needing a visa. If you are entering by land, you must be in possession of an approved ESTA and a completed form I-94W, issued by the immigration authorities at the port of entry, and pay a $6.00 fee, payable only in U.S. dollars.

Questions?

The ESTA program is managed by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States. This means that U.S. Embassies and Consulates do not have access to ESTA information and we cannot verify the status of your ESTA application. 

If you want to verify that you have a valid ESTA you must contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency directly tel. (001) 202 344 3710. Contact information and answers to the most common ESTA problems can be found on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website and on the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act FAQ