ESTA and the Visa Waiver Program

Visiting the United States Without A Visa

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a U.S. visa.

These citizens can use the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). A program managed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security.

As the Netherlands participates in the VWP, most Dutch citizens do not need a visa to travel to the U.S.

Read about the VWP and apply for ESTA on the official website

When can’t I use the VWP (ESTA) and need a visa?

Due to personal circumstances:

  • you traveled to certain countries (IranIraqSudanSyriaLibyaSomalia, and Yemen on or after March 1, 2011, or Cuba on or after January 12, 2021),
  • you are a dual national of any of the above mentioned countries,
  • you’ve been denied an ESTA, visa or entry into the United States in the past,
  • you overstayed on a previous Visa Waiver visit,
  • you’re not a citizen from a country participating in the VWP program traveling to the U.S.
    • this includes passengers in transit
    • passengers not leaving the plane,
  • if you might otherwise be ineligible for a visa,  you are not eligible to use the VWP

Because of different purpose of travel:

  • business travelers and tourists who wish to stay in the U.S. more than 90 days,
  • airline crew members,
  • crew members of commercial, private or maritime vessels,
  • students,
  • interns,
  • exchange visitors,
  • temporary workers
  • intra-company transfers,
  • treaty traders,
  • religious workers,
  • performers and artists,
  • representatives of foreign countries on official business,
  • journalists/media representatives

How to apply for a visa

If you don’t qualify for VWP/ESTA, click here to go to the nonimmigrant visa application instructions.

US-VISIT Program

In order to ensure appropriate safeguards for U.S. national security, the Department of Homeland Security enrolls travelers arriving at U.S. airports and seaports in the US-VISIT program. Enrollment includes collecting a digital photograph and electronic fingerscans of two index fingers. Enrollment takes only seconds and greatly enhances the security of U.S. citizens and visitors to the U.S., facilitates legitimate travel and includes safeguards for the privacy of foreign visitors. Information about US-Visit is available from the Department of Homeland Security’s website.

E-Passport Requirement

Effective July 1, 2009, all Dutch passports issued after October 26, 2006, including emergency and temporary passports, are subject to the electronic passport (e-passport) requirement for travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Any Dutch citizen holding an emergency passport that holds no chip, i.e. not an E-passport, must either apply for a regular Dutch passport or a visa to travel to the United States. Please see the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.

As of April 1, 2016, all travelers must have an e-passport to use the VWP.  An e-Passport, denoted by the symbol , is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. E-Passports are issued by the proper passport issuing authority and must meet international standards for securing and storing information corresponding to the passport and bearer (source: CBP).