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Traveling to the United States?

There are two ways to enter the United States as a visitor, either with a formal United States tourist visa (officially called a B-2 visa) or through the Visa Waiver Program. Travelers entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program are required to apply online for a "Travel Authorization" (eVisa) under the "Electronic System for Travel Authorization", officially abbreviated as ESTA.

Important News for Swiss Citizens:
Citizens of the 38 Visa Waiver Countries may travel to the United States without a visa, but are required to apply for ESTA. Switzerland is one of the 38 countries. Swiss citizens are encouraged to read this page for more information on how to apply.

What is the Visa Waiver Program?
The visa waiver program is a U.S. government program that enables citizens from 38 countries to enter the United States for tourism, transit or business purposes for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. The advantage of entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program is that you can travel to the United States on short notice without obtaining a visa.

What is ESTA?
ESTA is the official abbreviation for "Electronic System for Travel Authorization". ESTA is an online application system developed by the United States government to pre-screen travelers before they are allowed to board an airplane or ship bound for the United States.

Who needs to apply for ESTA?
Any person who wants to enter the United States (by air or sea) under the visa waiver program must apply for ESTA, including Swiss citizens.

What countries are included the visa waiver program?
The following 38 countries are part of the visa waiver program: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom.

There are several other eligibility requirements, including:
  • The traveler must hold a machine readable passport
  • The traveler must not have a criminal record in any country
  • The traveler is only allowed to say in the USA for up to 90 days
  • Extensions of stay are not allowed once you enter the United States

How long is an approved ESTA valid for?
An approved ESTA is normally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance. However, the traveler is allowed to stay for up to 90 days in the United States on each visit.

This page is available in English, German, French and Italian for your convenience.

How to Submit Your ESTA Application:

This website is not affiliated with the United States government. is operated by a private company. provides information about United States visas and the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. We also provide links to a third-party website which provides ESTA assistance and submission services. You are not required to apply at a private website. You can submit your ESTA application directly at the official United States government website. Please read our “Impressum” page for more information.

How to Apply for ESTA:
  1. Make sure that you meet the eligibility requirements.
  2. Decide if you wish to hire a private company or apply at the government website yourself without any assistance.
  3. Submit your application online.
  4. Receive the result of your application.
  5. After receiving an approved ESTA you may travel to the United States at any time.

How long does it take to apply for ESTA?
The ESTA online application form takes between 5 and 10 minutes to complete. Upon submitting your application, you will know within seconds if you are pre-approved to travel to the United States. Any person who is denied, must apply for a United States visitor visa, such as a B-1 Business or a B-2 Tourist visa.

What is the fee to apply for ESTA?
The official United States government website charges US$14 dollars per traveler, for example, a family of 4 must pay the fee 4 times. The main disadvantage of applying at the United States government website is that you will not receive any special assistance in case of questions or errors.

The Advantages of Using a Private ESTA Assistance Service:
There are several private companies which provide a comprehensive eligibility and assistance service, including customer services in multiple language (including English, German, French and Italian). These private companies charge between US$84 and US$150 for this service. The website we recommend charges US$88 for each application review and submission, which includes the mandatory fee of US$14 charged by the United States government.

What to do in case of denied ESTA Application:
The main reason why Switzerland is part of the exclusive group of Visa Waiver Countries is because a very small percentage of applicants are denied a B-2 visa (regular tourist visa). The same applies for ESTA, only a very small percentage of Swiss applicants are denied ESTA applications. In the unlikely event that your application is denied, you should contact the nearest United States embassy or consular for more information.

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