ESTA for the USA by land

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is essential for all travelers wishing to visit the United States. Indeed, the ESTA allows you to stay or transit on the territory without the need to obtain a visa or a transit visa. For a stay of less than 90 days, you can complete the entry formalities to the USA directly by clicking on the online form.

Very popular with globetrotters, in this article we will examine when the ESTA is essential for tourist or business travel. Whether you’re traveling by land, sea or air, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about it.

Is ESTA required for land travel?

Thanks to the Visa Waiver Program, millions of travelers can enter the United States. France is one of the partner countries that make the USA tourist visa a thing of the past for French citizens. The ESTA authorizes you to stay in America for 90 consecutive days for tourism or business purposes. For Europeans, the most logical thing to do is to fly to the United States. To do this, you must complete your ESTA application online at least 72 hours before departure, and upon landing, you will present yourself to customs. We remind you that only U.S. Customs agents are authorized to allow you to enter the United States. If you decide to travel to the US by boat, for example on a cruise ship, you will also be required to obtain an ESTA prior to boarding the ship.

However, it is also possible to enter the United States by land from Canada or Mexico. Since May 2, 2022, the ESTA has become mandatory to enter from Canada or Mexico by land.

The USA by land: the alternative to ESTA

If you traveled to the United States by land before May 2022, you could use the form I-94W at the border control to enter the United States, it cost only 6 USD per person, and allowed you to stay 90 days under the visa waiver regime.

The I-94W form was abolished in May 2022, it is no longer possible to enter by land without ESTA for nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries.

Just like at the airport, you and your vehicle will have to go through customs, but the lines can be a little longer at the border crossings; be prepared for a good half-hour wait. On the Internet, you can check waiting times to better plan your visit. Having your ESTA authorization on you when you enter the USA by land is now mandatory, it will allow you to spend less time filling out forms, and more time enjoying your stay.

To obtain an ESTA, simply fill out the application form available on the official U.S. Customs website.