Travelers Should Allow 72 Hours for ESTA, says CBP

Last Updated on February 23, 2023

At the height of holiday travel season, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recommended international travelers using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to apply soon, but not less than 72 hours before their scheduled international flight departure.

CBP says that due to changes in ESTA application processing, real-time approvals are no longer available. If applicants apply on the same day of their flight’s departure, they run the risk of not having an approved ESTA prior to departure. As a result, these international travelers without an approved ESTA will not be able to board their flight.

What is ESTA?

ESTA is an automated system that helps determine an individual’s eligibility to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. The system determines if travel may pose security or law enforcement risks. ESTA has been in place since 2007.

Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Ryan Bay, the Director of Legal Operations at Global Immigration Associates, P.C.(, Envoy’s affiliated law firm.