Do I have to print the ESTA document before going to the USA?

Once you have obtained your authorization, after completing your ESTA form, you will be given a receipt number. It is this number that you should keep, especially in case of loss. Of course, you can print the summary and keep the data with you for when you pass through U.S. Customs. To be valid, your copy must contain the receipt number that was assigned to your authorization.

When filling out the questionnaire, the information you provide must be accurate and consistent with the information on your passport, such as your first and last name, date of birth, passport references and nationality.

Indeed, when the U.S. Customs Service grants your travel authorization, these data will be taken into account. When you enter the United States, your passport will be scanned and the system will automatically detect if you have been granted a travel authorization. An error in the data you entered in the ESTA questionnaire will prevent you from entering the United States.

Since the information is received in advance by the customs service, the form is not mandatory, but the competent authorities in the USA strongly advise keeping a copy during your stay. This way, it will not be difficult to verify the possession of your ESTA authorization without an internet connection. This printed version is an irrefutable proof that should be kept on hand.

Reasons to print your ESTA form

Even if it is not mandatory, it is still advisable to keep a copy of your ESTA form in order to be sure of the information transmitted. And this for several reasons:

  • In case of an error, you will be able to know more easily in which part the erroneous information is located;
  • Your copy of the ESTA form will help you to avoid problems during your departure and to help you in case of computer problems or to answer questions asked by the American immigration agents;
  • your copy will allow you to know the validity period of your ESTA authorization. It is of course important to know the expiration date.

In short, this copy could be useful everywhere during your stay on American soil.

Other important information

When you receive your ESTA authorization, it is always advisable to read the information on it carefully. If you make a mistake, you should report it immediately to avoid further problems.

If you are sure that your passport information is correct on your ESTA authorization, simply print the document. As already noted above, this procedure is not mandatory but recommended.

If for some reason you did not print the document, it is important to at least have your identification number available. Indeed, you may be asked for it when boarding.