Air NZ plane flying over Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, South Island, during sunset

Everything You Need to Know About ESTA for Citizens in New Zealand

Traveling is one of the best ways to spend leisure time, especially during summer.

However, you might also need to travel for other reasons such as studies or business. Regardless of your reason for traveling, it is best to familiarize yourself with the traveling requirements.

Keep in mind that these requirements will differ from one place to the other. Nevertheless, some may be common for all states.

This article will give you everything you need to know about ESTA for New Zealand citizens

ESTA for New Zealand citizens

New Zealand passport on top of New Zealand dollars bank notes

What is a Visa Waiver Program?

A Visa Waiver Program (VWP) typically allows citizens of particular nations to tour the USA for business or tourism without acquiring a visa. This program will enable you to stay in the United States legally but not exceed 90 days.     

However, not all countries are Visa Waiver Program participants. Also, not all citizens from eligible countries will be permitted to use this program.

All travelers who use this program are expected to apply for permissions through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

They will also undergo screening at the place of entry in the United States and participate in the US-VISIT program managed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Can New Zealand Citizens Apply for ESTA, and What are the Benefits?

Any New Zealand citizen can apply for an ESTA as their travel authorization. The authorization will only be granted if one travels to the US for medical, transit, business, or tourism purposes.

While a particular trip must not be longer than 90 days of staying in the US, an approved ESTA visa New Zealand will remain valid for a maximum of two years. But, if the passport it is linked to expires before two years, the ESTA will also be invalid. 

There are numerous benefits associated with having ESTA authorization in the US. For instance, during the validity period, you can make as many trips as you wish to the United States using the same ESTA each time.

Usually, applying for a United States visa can be time-consuming and involves a lot of procedures. On the other hand, applying for an ESTA consists of completing a simple online form, which is a huge benefit to any NZ citizen.

Consequently, the application fee for an ESTA is significantly less when compared to that of applying for a US visa. 

Important Tips About Electronic Systems for Travel Authorization Application

It is crucial to apply for ESTA well in advance of the travel date. This helps avoid any inconveniences on your travel day.

Again, remember that any type of error, however small it might seem, could lead to your ESTA being declined. Hence, you should thoroughly check all the information you provide before submitting your application.

ESTA decline might require you to reapply again, which may not align with your presumed travel date. 

Ideally, apply for the ESTA about a week prior to your travel date. Some application processes will be approved in a few hours, while others may take longer; thus, apply early to be safer.