The ESTA application form now asks for parent's names. My parents are both dead, and I am 66 yrs old.

  • 1
    The people that know exactly why those questions are in the ESTA application will probably not reply here
    – g3rv4
    Oct 20, 2015 at 20:48
  • 6
    In the middle east, it is common to have mother names in passports and some other documents just to differentiate between people because many of us have the same first, middle and last names. This could be somehow related to the same issue.. Oct 20, 2015 at 21:01
  • I'm fairly certain I've seen another question about this, but I can't find it right now. There's some discussion about parents' names on the application in this question
    – Aleks G
    Oct 20, 2015 at 21:29
  • Why does this matter...?
    – chx
    Oct 20, 2015 at 21:33
  • @NeanDerThal sure, and this concern exists not only with Middle Eastern names.
    – phoog
    Nov 5, 2017 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


Parents names were added to the ESTA application last year. The DHS Document on this change states that :

With the addition of the new data elements, the Department is better equipped to identify travelers of interest and distinguish them from legitimate travelers, thereby improving DHS’s security capabilities while also facilitating the entry of lawful visitors. In addition to the enhanced vetting capability, the collection of additional name, dual citizenship, city of birth, home address, telephone number, parents’ names, and national identification number data reduces the likelihood that an applicant with derogatory holdings will be automatically approved for a travel authorization. All of the requested employer data is used to identify ESTA applicants who associate with persons of interest due to law enforcement or security concerns.

It doesn't matter if your parents are alive or dead - the question is still relevant and should be answered.

  • 1
    This is exactly right. If you read the page linked and the 'Enhancements to the ESTA' FAQ, they discuss the fact that there have been many identified citizens of European countries who have traveled to the Levant area (Syria, etc,) to fight with/for ISIL/ISIS and there is concern that those same people, all eligible for ESTA authorizations, would come to the US to commit terrorist acts. The enhanced questions are being asked to better identify all visitors. (Please note I am making no comment about agreement with this policy, or not.)
    – CGCampbell
    Oct 20, 2015 at 23:29
  • @CGCampbell: so the implied claim is that US government has information about the names of the parents of "undesirables"? (very plausible, if their foreign-law-enforcement sources provide this along with other identity data). The claim that it "facilitates the entry of lawful visitors" seems doubtful, but only in the same manner as "for your comfort and convenience seatbelts must be worn at all times". No reasonable person believes it to be true so it's not deceitful ;-) Oct 21, 2015 at 0:09
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    No, the US government now collects information about the names of the parents of "EVERYONE who applies for an ESTA" - period. It is a required field. If an applicant leaves it blank, or with data like "n/a" it is assumed that the ESTA application is denied, and the applicant then has to apply for a VISA.
    – CGCampbell
    Oct 21, 2015 at 11:36
  • So what does someone with only one parent do? Nov 28, 2019 at 8:26

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