THE US Government has announced it will no longer process applications for its Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in real-time.

“This is a really significant change to a process that was introduced in 2007”, says The Travel Authority Group’s Managing Director, Peter Hosper.

“We urge all of our clients travelling to the US to apply for their ESTAs as soon as their flights are confirmed”, added Hosper.

The guidelines for the system have always recommended that applications be lodged at least 72 hours before travelling, but in many cases approvals were almost instant meaning some passengers were able to obtain ESTAs at the airport if they had forgotten to do so earlier.

According to a note on the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website, however, ‘real-time applications will no longer be available, and arriving at the airport without a previously approved ESTA will result in being denied boarding.’

The Department said recent enhancements to the ESTA process had made querying application status much smoother, urging travellers to use the official site at

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