Planning a trip to the US soon? Read this first!
If you are travelling to the US from Singapore then there are a number of factors that you need to be aware of. To start with, you will obviously require a valid passport but you will also require the appropriate travel authorisation to allow you to enter the US. Singaporean citizens can apply for an ESTA that forms part of the Visa Waiver Program for people visiting the US.
The ESTA covers travel for both business and tourist purposes, so if you have a business meeting somewhere in the US, or you are going to do some sightseeing, the ESTA will give you the authorisation that you require for your trip. Please be aware that ESTA will only enable you to visit the US for a period of up to 90 days, so if you are planning on a trip that is longer than that you would need to apply for a different type of visa.
ESTA was established in 2009 to help to improve the security measures for people entering the United States. The US Customs and Border Protection have devised the system to allow short term visits to the US for people who do not have a different type of US visa.
How to apply for ESTA
Singaporean citizens can use the simple online ESTA form to apply for their travel authorization, and will usually get confirmation that it has been approved within a few hours. However, it can take longer so it is advised that you apply at least 72 hours before you are travelling to the US.
Your ESTA stays valid for two years and within that time you can make multiple trips to the US, for tourism, business or a combination of both. When your ESTA is approved, your passport gets electronically linked so that border security can see that you have the authorisation to enter the US.
If you are travelling as a family, you can send a group application but be aware that even children will need an ESTA to be able to enter the US. You will need to answer questions on the form including passport details, personal information, medical information and also any details related to any criminal convictions.
Who requires an ESTA?
Anybody travelling to the US that is not a permanent resident will require some form of visa to enter the US. If you are from a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program (such as Singapore, UK, Australia etc.) then an ESTA will be the easiest option to apply for as long as your trip is no longer than 90 days.
What you need to apply for ESTA
Before you start filling in the form, make sure that your passport is valid for the trip and also that you have a debit or credit card to enable you to pay the application fee for your ESTA. When you are completing the form, take extra care to ensure that the details are correct, such as your passport number, for example. Any errors can lead to your application being denied and could potentially mean that you are unable to travel if you do not get another application submitted and approved in time for your planned journey.