Americans do not need an ESTA to enter USA, and no one needs it to leave¹. Yet every time I've booked a flight in recent years, I've been told (I ignore it) that I need an ESTA for flights to/from the United States. It never says anything about citizenship, and it always says "to/from." Several airlines from different countries.

Are they all copying standard text written by someone unqualified or lazy?

Per one request, here's an example: enter image description here

¹Does an American citizen need an ESTA to leave the United States?

  • 3
    There's no way to answer this without knowing who is telling you this...
    – Doc
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 2:06
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    Can you link or copy/paste an example? Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 2:55
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    Please add a screenshot of a page which has this requirement. Closing as unclear until then.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 6:24
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    At least for the "Americans" part, the text seems to be correct: it refers to "all passengers eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program", which US citizens aren't. Confusing maybe, since many US citizens may not know that, but not wrong. I agree that the "from" in "to/from" seems to be wrong. Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 4:25
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    One could argue, that "from" means, if you book a return flight from the USA, where you then need a valid ESTA for the return portion (a little bit far fetched if that's the real reason and also confusing, but still possible). Such notice at the time of checkin for the return flight would be too late, given the fact that ESTAs are not necessarily approved immediately.
    – dunni
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 8:04

1 Answer 1


I'm guessing your screenshot is from the Norwegian booking process. Searching around, you're not the first person to wonder about this. The Norwegian background info page seems to have it right:

Travelling to the U.S. (ESTA)

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of countries that are members of the VWP to travel to the U.S. without applying for a specific visa. It is, however, a requirement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for all passengers eligible to travel under the VWP to apply for an Electronic System Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

but it would appear that the booking process is less intelligent about the whole from / to thing. One traveller reports getting an answer from Norwegian customer service:

I got this answer from Norwegian today in response to my question on their facebook page.



This is only a reminder for the passengers who need to apply for the ESTA.

Best regards


So, in answer to your question

Are they all copying standard text written by someone unqualified or lazy?

Sort of. They are applying standard text regardless of whether it is relevant or not.

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