By Darren Griffiths

A New Zealander’s Guide to Travelling to the USA with ESTA Visa

22nd July 2023

Last updated on July 27th, 2023 at 03:04 am

Gone are the days when New Zealanders planning to visit the US had to apply for a visa and deal with long, frustrating waiting periods. But this is no longer the case today as the ESTA visa New Zealand program has streamlined the application process, availing it online and reducing the waiting period.

An ESTA visa allows you to enter the US and stay for up to 90 days at a time. This document is valid for two years and allows you to make multiple entries to the country whenever necessary.

Here’s a detailed overview of all you need to know about the ESTA program.

1 – ESTA is Only for Eligible New Zealanders

    The Electronic System for Travel Authorization isn’t for anyone. Only people from supported countries can take advantage of it. Luckily, New Zealand is on the list. But that isn’t the be-all-end-all of getting an ESTA.

    Even as a New Zealander, there are certain requirements you must fulfill before getting an ESTA. First, you must be planning to visit the US on a business trip or for pleasure, like exploring popular attractions

    You can’t get it if your travel intention is work or study. Moreover, you can only be eligible for an ESTA if you don’t have a visitor’s visa and don’t plan to stay in the country for more than 90 days.

    2 – You can Apply for an ESTA Online.

      You don’t need to visit the US Embassy and Consulate in New Zealand to apply for an ESTA. You can do it online through the Department of Homeland Security’s official website. This is the most recommended way to apply for an ESTA.

      Besides the DHS’s ESTA application program, you can seek assistance from a veritable third-party service provider like But be careful not to fall prey to cons. Avoid scams by checking online reviews and past customer experiences before using a specific service provider.

      3 – Prepare to Pay ESTA Application Fees

        An ESTA costs $21 at the moment, which covers a $4 processing fee and authorization charges totaling $17. If your application gets rejected, you’ll only part with the initially charged $4.

        You can use VISA, American Express, JCB, or Master Card to pay ESTA application fees. Once you’ve covered all charges, the program will generate a receipt and send it to your email.

        4 – Your ESTA Application can be Denied.

          The US Customs and Border Protection doesn’t approve all ESTA applications. Your request may be denied if, according to the answers you’ll provide on the questionnaire, authorities classify you as a threat to the United States. 

          Additionally, if you’ve ever applied for an ESTA and it was rejected, chances are high that the current application will meet the same fate.

          Ready to Apply for an ESTA?

          Note that an ESTA doesn’t guarantee you access to the US. Authorities at entry points may prevent you from getting into the country if, at the moment of entry, they determine you are a threat to the States or discover you violated the terms of admission after a past admission. You may meet the same fate if the authorities at the port of entry discover your travel documents have discrepancies.

          Otherwise, you can easily apply for an ESTA via the DHS website. And if you want to expedite the process and avoid common pitfalls like providing incorrect information, a reputable service visa application expert can help.

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