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I am applying for an ESTA before I make any plans to visit the U.S. (including booking hotels). One of the sections of the ESTA application is the U.S. Point of Contact Information and it is mandatory.

While the form suggests that I put "UNKNOWN" if I do not know the information, the ESTA FAQ seems to have contradict this, as quoted below:

Can I apply for an ESTA without having confirmed travel plans?

Yes. Specific travel plans are not mandatory at the time of application, but you will need a U.S. point of contact.

Although specific travel plans are not required, the address where you will be staying in the United States is recommended to complete the application. If multiple locations are planned, you only need to enter the first address. If a complete address is not known, you can enter the name of the hotel or location you will visit.

If you are in transit, please select 'yes' to the 'Is your travel to the U.S. occurring in transit to another country?' question in the Travel Information section.

Notice the part that says "but you will need a U.S. point of contact"? The problem is, I do not have one. What do I need to do? Do I book a hotel and use their address, only to cancel closer to the date? Do I put in a random hotel address? Should I still put in "UNKNOWN"?

I don't want this field to cause problems in approval or possibly, during admission (e.g. changing hotel/staying with a friend who is an exchange student).

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I've used a hostel's contact number in the past, so you could do that for your application.

Also as one of the commenters has suggested, stating 'unknown' has also not prevented them from being approved for an ESTA.

From this thread on tripadvisor:

Although specific travel plans are not required, the address where visitors will be staying in the United States is an optional field that one can fill out. If multiple locations are planned, one needs to enter the first address. If a complete address is not known, one can enter the name of the hotel or location of the first city being visited.

  • "the address where visitors will be staying in the United States" is a different field from the "US point of contact" field. – Henning Makholm Jul 16 at 16:22

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