I will be visiting the US for a short period of time in july, I was elegible for the VWP so I applied for ESTA and it has been approved.

What should I bring with me when traveling to the US to demonstrate that I am authorized to enter the US under the VWP?

Is a print of the report from the esta website enough or do I need some more documents?

Note: I will obviously bring with me my passport, driving license and other identification documents.


1 Answer 1


From the US Customs and Border Protection website:

The United States regulation does NOT require a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) traveler to present a printed copy of the ESTA authorization page in order to travel. However, it is recommended that you print a copy for your records.

I carted around a printed copy for my first few visits to the US but it has never been useful and I have long since stopped.

That page does continue:

Some airlines may ask you to bring a copy, in which case you should print it out.

I think the key word here is ask - I never have been. Worst case, you could retrieve the details from the ESTA website even if you can't remember the application number, assuming you're travelling with a smartphone.

  • I think the key word here is "may" - it's up to the airlines whether they ask or not. We have been required, twice, by airlines to prove that we had ESTA authorisation or they would not let us even begin check-in process at the airport. First time they held us up for maybe 15 minutes while we tried to find some form of proof (eventually did but I can't remember where exactly we found it). Second time we were prepared and had printed copies.
    – Midavalo
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 13:32
  • I've never been asked by an airline. I'd imagine full-service American-based airlines and other big airlines would have the facilities to check automatically without requesting proof, but maybe budget airlines or those operating connecting flights wouldn't.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 14:40
  • @StuartF the two times we were asked - once was with Qantas, the other with American, both were direct flights
    – Midavalo
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 15:35
  • @Midavalo yes I’ve seen a similar approach in Prague airport last week where I had to argue about not needing proof of vaccination as a Green Card holder with an airport employee doing a “pre check” before you get to check in. The actual person doing the check in was more knowledgeable. I suspect the people doing “pre checks” are simply poorly trained.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 17:34
  • 1
    I'd say putting a PDF of the approval on your phone is the most prudent approach. You're not carting around pointless paperwork and you don't need to spend minutes hoping your Internet works if someone does ask.
    – Mavrik
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 21:55

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