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The ESTA website has been down for days, and I wanted to check the validity of my ESTA. Trying to find an alternative I called the US Consulate in Athens (uselsess, they gave me the wrong phone number for CBP) and waiting at the CBP line 20 minutes though useless information (Seriously usability score is 0) until a very helpful lady there gave me the actual ESTA office phone number (at the moment of writing +12023443710) which I called at 09:30 EDT on Friday and was told that they cannot answer the phone right now as their normal office hours is 07:30 to 17:00 EST (I am sure they meant EDT/EST) Monday to Friday. Can anyone tell me what are the alternatives for and to obtaining an ESTA (and checking validity of one)? Is there some US gov service that actually answers? What will happen if I get there and the immigration officer tells me that my ESTA has expired?

UPDATE: The problem seems to be from my IP (and the http does not get redirected to https) and I managed to work around it by using a VPN to New York. I will hold out for an answer about alternatives as that is what the question was about.

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  • Hm, it's working for me (I'm in New York). Are you using esta.cbp.dhs.gov (https)? I wonder whether you are using esta.cbp.dhs.gov (http), which indeed does not work. – phoog May 13 '17 at 21:55
  • @phoog I added https screen shot. In any case normally (I know we are talking about a government here, but even they usually get it right) well configured websites will redirect to https from http – oarsome May 13 '17 at 23:27
  • That's...strange! Where on this planet (roughly) are you, as it works for me (Stateside) as well... – UnrecognizedFallingObject May 13 '17 at 23:28
  • @UnrecognizedFallingObject I am in Athens... Wow I just VPNd to New York and it worked... Kind of defeats the purpose of running this site as only people outside the US will want to use it :-) – oarsome May 13 '17 at 23:31
  • Can you post a screenshot of the availability checker with the HTTPS URL in the "I want to test" box? – UnrecognizedFallingObject May 13 '17 at 23:37
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Having tested with, I think, the same availability checker you used to create your image, I am now very confident that your problem is that you're trying to reach

http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov

That, indeed, will not work. Instead, use

https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov

You can add https:// in the I want to test box, and the test will succeed. Apparently, entering a bare domain name results in an HTTP connection attempt. The ESTA server does not respond to these, but it does respond to HTTPS connections.

  • Thank you for your answer. This is half the solution to my problem but since the question is about alternatives, I think I'd better wait for an answer to that. – oarsome May 13 '17 at 23:49
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    There are no alternatives, this is the only URL. Source: cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/esta – chx May 14 '17 at 1:46

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