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I am thinking of visiting Victoria, BC in Canada and then going to Seattle, WA in the US, with the Victoria Clipper ferry.

I am a national of a country under the Visa Waiver Program. I think that if I enter by air, I need to fill an ESTA form. If I enter by car, I don't need one, I can fill a form when crossing the border.

With the ferry, what is the procedure? Should I necessarily have an ESTA?

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    Anecdotally I have heard of people with an ESTA being able to enter with it by land/sea. After all, they can easily verify your participation in the program. – Michael Hampton Apr 3 '15 at 2:33
  • @MichaelHampton yeah last time I crossed the border by land they told me it makes the process faster if I apply for an esta. I was still curious if it was mandatory. – Vince Apr 3 '15 at 10:15
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According to https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1132/~/citizen-of-visa-waiver-country,-wants-to-drive-into-u.s.-from-canada-or-mexico,

If you are a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and you enter the U.S. by land from Mexico or Canada, you are only required to complete the paper I-94W form at the land border crossing. ESTA is currently required for air and cruise ship travel only.

Note: VWP citizens do not need an ESTA to travel on the ferries between Vancouver and Victoria, BC and Washington state. They are treated as a land border port.

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