Brits wanting to visit the US will have to receive approval to travel in advance from the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation as of Wednesday January 20.

Although the scheme was introduced in January last year it wasn’t compulsory until now.

The online ESTA form replaces the green card that was filled out by passengers on board their US flight, and it is recommended travellers fill it out at least 72 hours before their departure.

British Airways director of customer service Silla Maizey urged travellers to make sure they are approved before departing, adding: “It only takes 15 minutes to complete an ESTA and the vast majority of applicants will receive approval for travel within minutes, although it can take up to 72 hours.

“Under the new regulations, we will not be able to accept US-bound customers for their flight if they have not received ESTA approval or if they do not hold a valid visa or Green Card. Most of our customers are already familiar with ESTA as it has been in place for more than a year, although not fully implemented.”

The trade has expressed concerns that the ESTA form may deter consumers from visiting the US, while there are also concerns over a possible $10 charge for filling out the form.


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