In April 2015, I traveled from Brussels to New York (tourism) after successfully applying for ESTA. Today, my ESTA is still valid (I checked via the official website). On 22 February 2016 I will be traveling from Amsterdam to Cancún, with a transit in Houston. When I applied last year, I was staying in New York, so I answered the question Is your travel to the US occurring in transit to another country? with a "no". For my trip to Cancún, however, this question should be answered with a "yes", since I will not be staying in the US for more than two hours during my transit in Houston.

Is there some way I can change the answer to the question Is your travel to the US occurring in transit to another country? from "no" to "yes"?

Or, do I have to apply for a new ESTA?

I ask this because the ESTA FAQ specifically mentions you should answer "yes" if you're in transit - the point is that I cannot change the answer to this question. The only thing I can do is change the NY address I stayed last year into "In Transit", but I'm not sure whether that's sufficient.

My doubts only grow by reading the explanation from the official ESTA website (see bold text):

Each approved ESTA application generally is valid for two years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. A new travel authorization is required if: (1) the traveler is issued a new passport; (2) the traveler changes his or her name; (3) the traveler changes his or her gender; (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes; or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed. The associated fee will be charged for each new application submitted.

I don't mind that much about the $14, but if it's not really necessary, I prefer to leave all the hassle aside.

  • 1
    I think by underlying circumstances they mean the questions about the traveller - ie have you ever broken the terms of a visa, have you ever commited genocide etc. Not the details about the visit itself (for which it is understood you may undertake several over the 2 year validity of the ESTA)
    – CMaster
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 9:50
  • Off topic: what are you doing outside of a prison if you committed genocide?? Even more, who is saying yes to these? It's not just ESTA: the new Canadian citizenship form asks whether you've been convicted of treason, noone was convicted of treason in Canada for more than 70 years and both in WW II were summarily executed so there's literally noone alive who could possibly say yes.
    – user4188
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 11:35
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    @chx surely if its a form to get Canadian citizenship then you could have been convicted of treason elsewhere?
    – CMaster
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 13:18
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    I have used the same ESTA about thirty times for various different purposes, sometimes transit, sometimes business, sometimes leisure, usually some mixture. No one is interested as long as you have an ESTA and it's still valid. I've never amended it either. I agree with @CMaster that what they want to know is whether the conditions on which it was issued (are you a terrorist or a criminal?) have changed.
    – Calchas
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 18:28
  • > have been convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason, or spying offences while you were a permanent resident -- so it's definitely within Canada.
    – user4188
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 18:39

2 Answers 2


The last rule refers to the yes and no boxes you have to tick, e.g. did you ever get deported. The transit checkbox is not part of the yes/no boxes. In fact, you don't even need to update the application at all while your esta is valid.

So if nothing changed except the fact that you are there for a transit, then no, you don't need to apply again.

The checkboxes:


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    I am not entirely sure how recent this image is, but it should provide a rough idea. Feel free to edit in a more recent picture if you have one.
    – Belle
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 11:23

I had the same situation about one year ago. I had a layover in ORD for my trip from LHR to CUN and I had a valid ESTA. I just modified the application with the new flights information and 'TRANSIT' in the US address.

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