My ESTA authorisation expires during my trip, what should I do?

In fact, as we shall look at closely here, although an ESTA authorisation is theoretically valid for two years for all visits to the United States during this period, it may not necessarily cover the entire period of your stay. So, are you required to re-apply for ESTA authorisation if it expires during your visit?

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ESTA that expires during your trip: Key points

  • It is not necessary to reapply if your ESTA expires during your trip to the USA.
  • However, it is essential that your ESTA is valid on the date you enter the USA.
  • If your ESTA expires before your travel date, you will need to renew it.
  • You can apply for a new ESTA before the expiry date of your current ESTA.


Do I need to reapply for an ESTA if it expires during my trip?

An ESTA authorisation is valid for a stay in the United States of less than 90 days, and for a period of two years after it is issued by the American authorities. If your ESTA expires before the end of your stay but is still valid on the date of your departure, you do not need to reapply.

Of course, it is imperative that your date of departure is included in the validity date of your authorisation and that you are able to state a date of return that is no more than 90 days after your departure. Your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your stay, including the return date.


When is it necessary to reapply for an ESTA?

Although your ESTA authorisation can be used for various trips to the United States for up to two years, even if it expires during your trip, there are certain special cases in which you will need to reapply online. These are as follows:

  • A change in the traveller's name or gender, or any change in their identity
  • A change in the traveller's contact details (address).
  • A change of passport. Check that the passport number given on your first application is the same as your current passport number.
  • A change in the answers to one or more questions on the form.

Clearly, all the information you provided when you made your first ESTA application must still be valid at the time of your stay. Otherwise, you may be denied boarding.

How do I reapply for an ESTA if necessary?

If you fall into one of the above categories, you will need to reapply for an ESTA online to ensure that your trip to the USA goes ahead. All you need to do is go to the official website or that of our partner and fill in the form, making sure you have a valid electronic or biometric passport.

Once you have completed the form, you will be asked to pay the processing and transmission fees to the US authorities before it can be validated.

A reply will then be sent to you by email within a maximum of 72 hours.

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Is the ESTA automatically renewed when it expires?

Some travellers mistakenly think that ESTA authorisation is automatically renewed after its two-year validity period. In reality, the procedure is not automatic. Nor will you be informed when your authorisation expires. So you need to take matters into your own hands if you want to travel to the United States again after your previous ESTA has expired.

To do this, you need to know the expiry date of your current authorisation. There are several ways of doing this. If you have remembered to print out your ESTA or have requested a paper version from a service provider who offers postal delivery, such as the one we recommend on this site, you will easily find the date of issue of your previous authorisation and therefore its expiry date. However, if this is not the case, you will need to find the e-mail that was sent to you when you made your previous request. If you have not archived this message, you can search your inbox using the keyword "ESTA".

If you have kept your identifiers from your first registration, you can also access the status of your current ESTA online by visiting the site where you applied for it or the US government site.

If your ESTA has indeed expired or expires before the departure date of your trip, all you have to do is make a new application, starting the procedure from the beginning. You will need to answer all the questions on the online form once again. It is also important to note that even if you have already obtained such authorisation in the past, it is still possible that this new application will be rejected, particularly if certain important points in your situation have changed.

If you do not need to reapply for an ESTA for this new trip and your previous authorisation has not expired, you should still check that your situation has not changed and that the information you entered at the time is still correct. If this is not the case, as mentioned above, you will need to amend the information that has changed where possible, or submit a new application by filling in the online application form again.


The special case of transits or stopovers in the United States

Let's now take a moment to look at the specific case of transits or stopovers in the USA. You need to have an up-to-date ESTA even for a very short stay on American soil, and even if you don't get off the plane during your stopover. This raises a number of questions about the validity of the ESTA during the transit or stopover on the outbound journey and during the transit or stopover on the return journey.

Let's imagine that your ESTA is valid on your outbound journey via the United States, but that it expires before your return date. We saw together that the validity of the ESTA for a simple stay of less than 90 days in the United States only matters for the date of entry into the country, i.e. the date of the outward journey. But in the case of transit, each outward and return journey is considered to be both an entry into and an exit from US territory. The date of the stopover or transit on your return journey is therefore considered to be the date on which your stay in the USA begins. It is therefore logical that your ESTA should still be valid at that time.

If this is not the case and your ESTA authorisation expires during your stay, you must reapply in order to obtain a valid authorisation for both your outward and return journeys. There are two ways of doing this. The first is to reapply for your ESTA during your stay, i.e. between your outward and return dates, but you will need to ensure that you have the time and logistical resources to do this. The second option is to renew your ESTA before your departure date. This way, the new ESTA you obtain will cover both your transit on the outward journey and your return journey, except in the rare case of journeys lasting more than two years. We feel that this is the most advantageous solution, as it will allow you to travel with peace of mind without having to worry about any administrative formalities during your stay, and will guarantee that you will be able to embark for both stopovers and transits in the USA without a hitch.

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As a web writer and globetrotter with a passion for travel and tourism, I have acquired in-depth knowledge of the procedures that are essential for travellers. I help travellers to complete all the formalities required for a successful trip, particularly when it comes to obtaining a visa online. With several years' experience in this field, I'd like to offer you some valuable advice to help you discover the world with complete peace of mind.