As of Monday, January 12, Australians traveling to the US are required to obtain approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).
This is an online system administered by the US government which determines the preliminary eligibility of visitors to travel under the visa waiver program prior to boarding a carrier to the United States.
Most travelers can expect to receive authorization within a few minutes. However, travelers are advised to complete an ESTA as soon as they begin to plan their travel, and at least 3 days in advance, to avoid any last-minute delays.
Travelers who do not have a valid ESTA on or after January 12, 2009 may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing or be denied admission at a United States port of entry. Once granted, electronic pre-clearance will be valid for up to two years and for multiple-entry visits to the United States.
It is recommended that travelers keep a print-out or record of their ESTA application number for reference, if required, at airports or seaports.
Australian passport-holders who hold a valid visa for travel to the United States (i.e., work or student visas) are not required to obtain an ESTA.
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