I received a payment error during my ESTA application and still need to pay. The current application status for the last few hours shows:


Your application is not complete and will not be processed by CBP until the processing fee has been paid.
You must complete payment within 7 days.

The help says to click the payment button if have not paid, however there is no payment button, I guess because already started the payment process.

I tried creating a new application however get an error about an application already existing for my passport. The application will expire automatically in 7 days, however I leave in 5 days.

I tried calling their support number but couldn't get through, and their email support has a 2-3 week turnaround time.

Any ideas how to get the visa-waiver in time? Is there perhaps a way to cancel an ESTA application so can start a new one?

  • no - this happened because started but did not complete the PayPal checkout process
    – hoju
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 5:01
  • 3
    It's now midnight on the east coast. Try calling again in 8 or 9 hours.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 5:02

5 Answers 5


By comparing with a working payment form I was able to trigger payment by typing the following in console:

// add the missing form inputs
$("form").append('<input id="paymentDisclaimerChecked" type="checkbox" name="paymentDisclaimerChecked" value="yes" checked />')
$("form").append('<input type="hidden" name="_eventId_pay" value="Submit" />')
$("form").serialize() // check form values are as expected

Now have my ESTA approved - San Francisco here I come!

  • 19
    That's firmly in the "don't try this at home" category, but I'm still tempted to give you a bounty :) Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 10:07
  • 1
    What, are you saying they're using client-side logic to confirm payment?? Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 14:38
  • 1
    Did your Paypal account also get charged? Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 16:06
  • 7
    @HenningMakholm No, they're using client side logic to determine if the "submit payment" button should be displayed. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 20:24
  • 15
    I'm nominating this answer for Stackoverflow hall of fame.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 13:25

I had the same problem, and unfortunately, hoju's Javascript-fu didn't work for me. For the record, I'm used to this kind of tricks, and use them often myself, so I knew what I was doing.

What magically worked instead was, without closing the browser, to visit this link:


That's the page where my payment was interrupted, and magically, it asked my credit card information again, payment went through and my ESTA was approved!

Notes, this may not work for everyone:

  1. That link will work if you were in the middle of paying (in my case, with a credit card) and something went wrong, e.g. connection dropped. If you were not in the middle of a payment, it will give you an error, which means this solution won't work for you,
  2. I assume it was able to resume the previous session because it had some cookie stored, and the session was still active. If you close your browser, or wait too long, this may not work,
  3. I was using a credit card to pay, not paypal. I'm not sure if this would've worked with paypal.

If it doesn't work, try to look at your browser history for any address including www.pay.gov, and try to reload that (that's what I did).

I don't know if this will work for other people, but I'm posting it here in case I can help some fellow traveler.

  • Welcome to the site! Thank you for posting such a useful answer.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 13:19
  • @Dorothy The link you edited is different than the one in my original answer, that I used and worked for me. Did you have the same problem yourself and your simpler link worked for you instead?
    – Daniele
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 7:51
  • It wouldn't work for me. Was it, perhaps, because it was specific to your login or the session? I was seeing your answer, and simply checking the link. When I go to your original, I get this message "We're sorry. An error has occurred while accessing our site. Pay.gov cannot process your request at this time. Please try again at a later time or contact Pay.gov Customer Service."
    – Giorgio
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 13:05
  • That's right, that's what I get too, now. Before instead, I was in the middle of submitting the payment, so it was able to resume that.
    – Daniele
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 17:12
  • @Dorothy were you able to get to the payment page via www.pay.gov instead?
    – Daniele
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 17:13

According to the ESTA payment information page:

If your system "timed out" during th.e step 4 of the application payment process; you have 7 days to return to your Application for payment. Please go to ESTA and "update/check status" . Once you retrieve your ESTA; "payment required" message should appear and click on the "pay" button to begin payment. If you do not pay with in 7 days; you will need to begin a brand new ESTA.

  • 1
    Nope, this doesn't work, not for me at least. When I did that, it just showed the same error message instead of "payment required".
    – Daniele
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 18:26
  • This did work for me at first. But pressing the "Pay" button brought me back to the same pay.gov page saying "The Pay.gov web site is currently unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please check back with us later." And when I returned to my ESTA application status, suddenly there was no longer any option to press "Pay".
    – Wytze
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 3:12
  • The information I got from ESTA support, which work indeed: "The payment processing will time out if you refresh your page, select the "back" button, or your connection is unstable. If your payment has timed out, the ESTA application status page will display a "Payment status can not be determined at this time" error. If this occurs, you should wait 4 hours, retrieve you application, and attempt to pay again."
    – krzychek
    Commented Jan 3 at 8:20

I had the same issue (using Chrome), I tried with Firefox and it worked, I had the "Pay" button and the payment worked well


That's the answer: don't use Chrome for payment. With Chrome, it won't work; and then I tried Internet Explorer, and it works!

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