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I created an ESTA in January 2014 and then entered the U.S. on that ESTA two times in 2014 and then in April 2015, in all cases in SFO. On my visit in May 2015 I found to my delight I could now use a fast lane for entering (i.e. the one that U.S. residents use with the automated computers etc.) due to it being a re-entry on the same ESTA. So the queue was much shorter that way. Now my ESTA is expiring so I will have to buy a new one for my trip end-of-February.

My question is then, can I now again go to the fast-entry line or is it "back to scratch" because it's a new ESTA? Will it make a difference if I buy the new one before or after the old one expires?

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Visa Waiver Program visitors must have Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTA) approval prior to travel and have visited the United States on at least one occasion after 2008.

The answer to your question appears to be that you can use the gates with a new ESTA, or even a new passport.

Source: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/automated-passport-control-apc

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    I was asked before using the fast gates if I'd been to the US within [period] and if I had an ESTA, not if I travelled on the ESTA before, which lends support to think. – CMaster Jan 6 '16 at 13:21
  • Thanks I didn't know that APC was the name of the program so couldn't find anything on Google - but this page explains all. – Morty Jan 6 '16 at 22:19

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