1. IS JAPAN CONSIDERED A VWP (VISA WAIVER PROGRAM) COUNTRY?
Yes. Japan is currently a VWP approved country.
There are currently about 39 approved countries, and approval could change at any time. To check current approval status, and find more information on the VWP program, click here.
2. CAN JAPANESE CITIZENS VISIT THE USA USING ESTA?
Yes. Citizens of any country within the VWP can use the ESTA for travel to the USA.
When travelling from Japan to the USA, for trips under 90 days, Japanese citizens who meet ESTA eligibility requirements can use an ESTA instead of a Visa.
Note: if you already have a valid visa, the ESTA is not necessary.
Only citizens of VWP approved countries are eligible for an ESTA, citizens of all other countries must have a Visa.
3. WHAT ARE THE ESTA REQUIREMENTS FOR JAPANESE CITIZENS?
Eligibility for an ESTA for Japanese citizens is the same for citizens of any VWP country. Your visit must be for business or leisure and for 90 days or less.
However, there are also other eligibility requirements that relate more to your personal circumstances and history. For example, if you have a criminal record, you may not be able to get an ESTA.
Have a read of our guide to factors that will prevent you from getting an ESTA here for more information.
4. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET ESTA APPROVAL AND WHEN SHOULD I APPLY?
US Customs and Border Patrol recommends that travellers apply at least 72 hours before travelling, but you may apply any time before you board your carrier.
Generally, you should look into applying for an ESTA while making your travel plans and before buying airplane tickets.
For most travellers, the application is processed and approval made in less than twenty minutes.
5. WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRE A VISA INSTEAD OF ESTA?
An ESTA is only for citizens of Japan who are travelling by sea or air, staying in the USA 90 days or less, who currently have no valid visa, and who will be travelling within two years from the date they apply for the ESTA.
Japanese citizens will need a Visa instead of an ESTA if:
- Their travel plans include staying longer than 90 days
- They are dual citizens of Japan and Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria or North Korea
- They don’t have a e-passport with a readable chip and digitally printed photo
- They have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Yemen, Libya or Somalia since March 1st 2011, except for military duty and official government duties.
- They have committed a crime of moral turpitude
- They are carrying a communicable disease
6. WHAT SHOULD JAPANESE CITIZENS KNOW ABOUT PASSPORTS AND THE ESTA SYSTEM?
Two things Japanese citizens should know regarding their passport and the ESTA:
- An approved ESTA is valid for two years, or until your passport expires if your passport expiration date is less than two years away.
- Your passport must be an e-passport with a machine readable chip containing biometric info and a digitally imprinted photo, in order to qualify for the ESTA.
7. CAN I CORRECT OR UPDATE MY ESTA APPLICATION?
You can change travel-related information such as the airline you plan to use, specific travel dates (provided the dates are before the ESTA application approval expires), and hotel.
You will need to re-apply for your ESTA if:
- You receive a new passport
- You legally change your name, gender or citizenship