US Entry Requirements

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

ESTA is an electronic travel authorisation that all nationals of VWP countries must obtain prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States under the VWP. This travel authorisation has been mandatory since Jan. 12, 2009

Visa Waiver travellers should register through the Department of Homeland Security website at the following address:

 A fee of $14 will be charged for each new or renewed ESTA. All payments for electronic travel authorisation applications must be made by credit card or debit card when applying for or renewing an ESTA. The ESTA system currently accepts only the following credit/debit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover. Your application will not be submitted for processing until all payment information is received.

ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel. Once approved, authorisations are generally valid for multiple entries into the U.S. for up to two years or until the applicant’s passport expires or other specific circumstances give rise to a need to reapply, whichever comes first. Under the new interim final rule, travellers with an approved ESTA will not need to pay the ESTA fees when updating an ESTA application. However, travellers with new passports and re-applying for an ESTA will need to pay the ESTA fees.

An applicant who does not receive authorisation to travel will need to go to their nearest U.S. Diplomatic or Consular Mission and apply for a visa.

An ESTA approval does not determine admissibility into the United States. The final decision for entry to the United States rests with US immigration authorities at the port of entry.

The ESTA programme does not apply to Irish citizens who are holders of a visa for the United States.

For more information on ESTA, please visit

Passport Requirements

Since 16 June 2005 persons traveling to the United States have been required to present a machine readable passport to avail of the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme. Otherwise they must obtain a visa, in advance, from their nearest U.S. Diplomatic or Consular Mission.

Ireland is one of the countries that can avail of visa waiver status and has been issuing machine readable passports since 1993.

A machine readable passport has two lines of text in the form of letters, numbers and chevrons (<<<) at the bottom of the personal information page.

New passports issued by Visa Waiver Program countries after 25 October 2006 must be ePassports, which include an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page, as well as other biometric information, such as the required digital photograph of the holder. Ireland commenced issuing ePassports on 16 October, 2006.

You can identify an ePassport by the logo at the bottom of the cover


Machine readable passports issued before 16 October 2006 are still valid for travel to the US until their date of expiry.

Changes to Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Travel for Bearers of Emergency/Temporary Passports

 Ending the E-Passport Exemption

Passports issued by the Passport Office or by our Missions abroad in emergency situations are not ePassports. Since the introduction of the ePassport in 2006 requirement it has been possible for Irish citizens to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program using one of these Passports. However, From July 1, 2009 the US authorities will only permit entry to their territory on an emergency passport if the traveller has been issued with a Visa. 

Irish Emergency Passport

You can recognise an Irish emergency Passport as it has a green cover and contains only 8 pages. It is machine readable and has a digital photograph.

Further information on entry requirements for the US can be found at


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