Entering the USA with a child: What you should consider

View over New York

The cruise trip to the U.S. is booked and anticipation continues to build. But what documents do you and your offspring actually need to enter the United States? Each family member must have a valid passport. But that’s not all – in addition, an ESTA application as well as an approval of the legal guardian is necessary. Below you will learn more about it.

The ESTA application as an entry permit

ESTA is the abbreviation for Electronic System for Travel Authorization and means in German “elektronisches Reisegenehmigungssystem”. Nationals of countries in the Visa Waiver Program do not need a visa to enter the U.S. Instead, they must submit an ESTA application before their trip.

The document is valid for two years from its creation (unless the passport expires within that time or the name written in the passport changes) and cannot exceed the stay of more than 90 consecutive days. If you want to stay longer in the USA, you must apply for the appropriate visa.

The ESTA application is also used to determine whether the traveler poses a threat to national security. The background is that the U.S. wants to minimize the risk of terrorism by collecting further information on travelers in the country.

If you are unsure whether you and your family are eligible to apply for ESTA, the ESTA eligibility checker can help you.

Park in the heart of New York

Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan

Is the ESTA application also necessary for children and teenagers?

Yes, in any case! Every child, even a baby, must have ESTA approval before traveling to the U.S. If you forget to apply for ESTA, you risk being denied entry to the United States or even denied boarding the ship or plane.

ATTENTION: The obligation for ESTA approval also applies to a stopover or transit in the U.S. So before you travel, remember the necessary formalities.

How do I apply for an ESTA for myself and my child??

You can easily apply for ESTA online on the website of the Department of Homeland Security. The process is the same for adults and children. The application is available in English and French only. However, German language instructions are available. You can use this to help you fill out the document. The processing fee for German citizens – whether children or adults – is $21 per person. You can pay by credit card or PayPal.

On our AIDA portal, discount ship, you can find instructions on how to fill out the ESTA application.

Attention: There are several websites that offer the application translated into German as well. However, these usually incur significantly higher fees! In addition, you can never be sure whether it is actually the valid ESTA application. To avoid high costs and problems with the entry, you should always apply only on the official site of the Department of Homeland Security.

It usually takes 72 hours for the ESTA application to be approved. However, you should note that in case of rejection, the application can be re-filed only after ten days – provided that the above requirements have been met. Otherwise, you will have to take care of a visa, the processing time of which will be much longer. So try to apply for ESTA as early as possible to avoid being pressed for time just before your vacation.

What you should also bear in mind: Your child must also have a passport issued in his or her name in order to have the ESTA application approved and thus be able to enter the United States without any problems. Children’s IDs, children’s passports as well as entries in the passport of the parents are not recognized in the USA!

What are the actual differences between the various identification documents and at what age can you apply for an e-passport for children? We have compiled these and other questions in our article Passport and Co: Identification documents for your cruise.

Proof of guardianship

For entry into the USA, children must also have the permission of both parents. If your child is traveling alone or with only one parent, a document should be carried with the consent of the non-traveling parent or guardian. Children from divorcing families – especially children who do not bear the name of the accompanying parent – should in the best case have a permission of the legal guardian with the same name with them. If you have sole custody, you must also carry a confirmation with you. Which points should be listed in this document estaformular carries.org together:

  • Personal details and contact information of the traveling child
  • Personal information of the guardian(s) not traveling with the child
  • Travel itinerary or staying in the U.S., respectively
  • Personal details of any accompanying person traveling with them

In addition, the document must be written in English and authenticated by a seal-keeping agency, such as notaries, municipal secretaries or agencies of state-recognized churches. The background idea of the authorities in the United States is that it can be proven that the supervision of the child is not child abduction.

Before the cruise can start, the ship’s manifest must be filled out. In order to complete it, some shipping companies require the document number (Application Number), which you will receive after the ESTA application is confirmed.

The most important facts at a glance

Regardless of which shipping company you use to travel to the USA with your family, you will need ESTA approval and valid passports for all family members. It doesn’t matter whether they are babies, children, teenagers or adults. In addition, the offspring requires an authorization from the legal guardian(s) in English. The document is to prove that it is not a case of child abduction.

You want to receive current cruise offers and news from AIDA and TUI Cruises? Then sign up right away for the free EURESAreisen newsletter!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *