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I got an email from the Department of Homeland Security(!) to say my two-year ESTA is expiring at the end of next month. Is there a way to just renew it, or do you have to go through the complete application process again?

Also, do you need to wait for it to expire before applying?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

There's a convenient page on the ESTA program website:

When my ESTA expires how do I renew my application?

If your ESTA has expired, you must reapply for a brand new authorization by submitting a new application. Current authorizations can not be extended. Go to ESTA.cbp.gov, follow the instructions to answer all of the required questions and submit a new application for travel authorization - just like you did the first time you applied.

You do not need to wait until your ESTA expires to re-apply. You may do so at any time before, on or after the expiration date of your existing ESTA. Should you receive the message "A valid, approved application with more than 30 days remaining has been found for this passport. Submitting this application will require payment for this application and will then cancel the existing application." you will simply continue with the application to begin your new application. Your prior ESTA will be cancelled and replaced with your new application.

ESTA approvals are typically granted for a two-year period or until the applicant's passport expires, whichever is sooner. The approval is good for multiple entries - meaning you may use it for more than one entry into the U.S. ESTA provides validity dates upon approval of the application. The associated $14.00 fee will be charged for each new application.

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I don't mean to be cheeky but I was wondering about your question and answer. Your question, which is interesting and useful to many people, seems to have been posted roughly at the same time as the reply. Did you ask the question and soon after found the answer on the ESTA site, and so decided to share it with others? I don't think you knew the answer from the start, or else why ask the question in the first place? –  Paola Sep 28 '12 at 22:40
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I didn't know it this morning, when I saw the email, so I searched for it. Decided it'd be a useful one to have on here for future users. This is a practice that's encouraged on Stackexchange. –  Mark Mayo Sep 28 '12 at 22:43
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Here's a more recent blog post where Spolsky explains the matter further. "It’s not just a Q&A platform: it’s also a place where you can publish things that you’ve learned" –  Jonik Sep 28 '12 at 23:04
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