ESTA-clearance for Visa Waiver nationals travelling to the USA

Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)

ESTA is an automated system used by US Customs and Border Protection to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and to assess whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk.

Effective January 12, 2009, ESTA becomes mandatory for all nationals of VWP countries who plan to travel to the USA for temporary business or pleasure under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). VWP travellers will be required to receive an electronic travel authorization through ESTA prior to travelling to the USA. Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, will be required to obtain an independent ESTA approval.

A third party, such as a relative or travel agent, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveller.

U.S. CBP recommends that ESTA applications be submitted no less than 72 hours prior to travel. Later submission is possible but the approval may not be received in time for travel. An approved ESTA application is valid for a period of two years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. The visitor may travel to the United States repeatedly within a two-year period without having to apply for another ESTA.

After ESTA becomes mandatory, travellers who have not received ESTA approval may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission at a U.S. port of entry.

Individuals who possess a valid visa will still be able to travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose it was issued. Individuals travelling on valid visas will not be required to apply for an ESTA.

In order to apply for an ESTA authorization, go to, follow the instructions to answer all the required questions, and submit an application for a travel authorization.

If an ESTA application is denied and the traveller wishes to continue with the trip, the traveller will be required to apply for a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For more about visa application procedures, please visit

Visa Waiver Program

To find out more about the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) e.g. which nationals are eligible to travel under the program and under what conditions, please visit:

Secure Flight Passenger Data to be collected before US flights

Starting October 31, 2009, in all new flight reservations to/from/via the USA the minimum information required for SFPD is:

The required data shall be entered by the agent making the reservation.

To create a SSR DOCS with partial information (without passport information):


SR DOCS = SSR code for entering APIS data in a PNR
AY = Airline code where message to be sent
HK1 = Status
---- = 4 x dash (passport information not entered)
-30JUN73 = dash, Date of Birth
-M = dash, Gender
- = dash (passport expiry date not entered)
-HAEMAELAEINEN = dash, Surname
-MATTI = dash, First given name
-JUHANI = dash, Second name
/P2 = Passenger association
/S3-4 = Segment association (optional), flight to/from USA

Genders: M=male, F=female, MI=male infant, FI=female infant
Scandinavian alphabets: Å=AA, Ä=AE, Ö=OE

Once the data has been entered correctly it will show in the PNR as follows:



The name in the PNR/ticket can be e.g. 1 SMITH/ALICE MS but in the SSR DOCS element all names must be exactly in the same order as the names in the Machine Readable Zone of the passport.

Example of SSR DOCS entry for a passenger with three given names:

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