Is it obligatory to print the ESTA confirmation
The Visa Waiver Program has many nuances, one of which can be formulated in the question, “Do I need to print my ESTA confirmation?” This is a very common inquiry and people rightfully make it because the unavailability of a printed version of confirmation email caused plenty of misunderstandings for travelers. In this article we will make it clear, do you need to print ESTA confirmation or not.
What is ESTA confirmation
Let’s say that you are an eligible citizen of one of 38 countries that participate in the VWP. By the way, you can find the list of these countries here. So, you have decided to visit the States for the purposes of tourism or to settle a minor business matter (two official reasons for visiting this country under the Program, with the third one being a transit trip to the neighboring countries, namely Canada and Mexico). You have followed the official instructions to the letter:
- Took the ESTA Eligibility Test and successfully passed it.
- Filed a correctly filled official request on the CBP website.
- Paid the ESTA processing fee.
- Waited for 48 hours, while regularly checking for updates on your traveler status.
Now you finally get the official email that confirms that you were given the official permission to travel to the States without a visa. And the question arises, do you need to print ESTA confirmation? The answer to that question is rather ambiguous. On one hand, the official ESTA and CBP regulations do not insist that a travel should definitely have the ESTA print out. It is only logical because the system itself is based on electronic authentication, so the traveler’s data should be safely stored in the official database and be available to any customs officer or other representatives of national security services via the Internet on their first request. And in most cases, the traveler just has to present the valid international passport and provide the application number. The officer will instantaneously see the traveler’s personal information on his or her computer screen and make a decision whether to let the traveler pass right away or to arrange a more rigorous checking.
Do I have to print my ESTA confirmation?
Therefore, the ESTA print out is not a necessary element of every traveler’s hand-luggage.
However, the officials say that it is advisable to have a printed version of ESTA confirmation at hand. It is required for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the customs officers may ask the traveler to present the ESTA print out in case they have even the slightest doubt regarding traveler’s identity. It is also necessary to state the number of application at the customs check-point; therefore, if you are not sure that you will be able to memorize that number correctly, you do need to print off ESTA confirmation in order to avoid any confusion at the border.
Secondly, in 2010, the American authorities obliged airline companies to ask the passengers that are boarding the plane to confirm their ESTA eligibility. And the easiest way to do it is to present the printed version of the confirmation email. If you have lost your copy you can easily reprint ESTA form.
Still not sure? Ask the third party service for help
If it seems to you that we didn’t clarify the question, do you need to print your ESTA or not, you can always contact USA-visaservices.com and ask their experts for assistance. Just make sure to visit the Check or Update ESTA section before contacting the third-party service.