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Old 04.03.2014, 19:44
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Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

(Apologies if this is in the wrong forum..)

My family and I are off for a 2-week holiday to Florida in April.
Apparently, we each need to apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) from the online US government site, but it's a painfully horrible website to use.

Partly because I have to type in all the personal details about all of us, even our 4-year-old's passport details and all of the details about which flight she's taking (errr, she's coming with us..)

And partly because, even though Switzerland is one of the countries whose residents are allowed to apply for a ESTA, my Swiss wife's passport number was rejected, simply saying "Passport ineligible for Visa Waiver Program travel."

Huh ?

There's absolutely nothing on their website to help with this issue, or suggestions how to get around it. Her passport is a regular Swiss passport, issued in 2008, and the passport number is an "F" followed by 7 digits.

Have any other Swissies had this issue ?
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Old 04.03.2014, 19:50
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

According to the web site "If you hold a Swiss passport 03 issued after October 26, 2006, please note that for travelling to the U.S., you need to have a U.S. visa along with the passport. "


Such passports are not eligible for the Visa waiver. So you need to apply for a US visa


Or you could get her a new Swiss biometric passport; if time allows.
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Old 04.03.2014, 19:50
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

Maybe this website would help - is her passport the Model 03 version? http://bern.usembassy.gov/niv_waiver_program.html

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(Apologies if this is in the wrong forum..)

My family and I are off for a 2-week holiday to Florida in April.
Apparently, we each need to apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) from the online US government site, but it's a painfully horrible website to use.

Partly because I have to type in all the personal details about all of us, even our 4-year-old's passport details and all of the details about which flight she's taking (errr, she's coming with us..)

And partly because, even though Switzerland is one of the countries whose residents are allowed to apply for a ESTA, my Swiss wife's passport number was rejected, simply saying "Passport ineligible for Visa Waiver Program travel."

Huh ?

There's absolutely nothing on their website to help with this issue, or suggestions how to get around it. Her passport is a regular Swiss passport, issued in 2008, and the passport number is an "F" followed by 7 digits.

Have any other Swissies had this issue ?
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Old 04.03.2014, 20:21
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

Many thanks for the replies.
They have been really useful.

You're right, my wife (and two young daughters) all seem to have "Pass 03" passports, which apparently:
"The passport allows visa-free travel 03 into and through the United States, unless it 26 before October 2006 was issued ."
http://www.schweizerpass.admin.ch/co...e/pass_03.html

Visa-free ?
Great ! So we don't need to apply for any type of tourist visa for our 2-week holiday !

Ah, but according to this site, we do:
http://bern.usembassy.gov/niv_waiver_program.html

How can I tell if my Swiss passport is valid for visa-free travel on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

Passport Model "03"
...if issued before October 26, 2006 is valid for Visa Waiver Program (VWP)...
...if issued on or after October 26, 2006 you must apply for a visa.


So, this website suggests you can't apply for a VWP, but must apply for a visa.


Again, have any Swissies hit this problem, and what have you done ?
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Old 04.03.2014, 20:45
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

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"The passport allows visa-free travel 03 into and through the United States, unless it 26 before October 2006 was issued ."
http://www.schweizerpass.admin.ch/co...e/pass_03.html

Visa-free ?
Great ! So we don't need to apply for any type of tourist visa for our 2-week holiday !
Afraid you misunderstood the link. It actually says
Quote:
The passport allows visa-free travel 03 into and through the United States, as long as it was issued before 26 October 2006

Had a friend in the same position last year. A new passport was their answer - was much faster than a visa.
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Old 04.03.2014, 21:25
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

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Again, have any Swissies hit this problem, and what have you done ?
We had this problem a few years ago with a Swiss student who was issued with an ESTA but had a passport for which the ESTA was ineligible.

We found out about the ineligibility at the airport. The airline did not allow her onto the plane.

There is no alternative to either getting the correct issue of passport or apply for a visa.

That said, two years ago we visited the States and my wife needed a visa as she is not an EU citizen. It took about a week to come through the post.
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Old 04.03.2014, 21:42
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

Just go to Cuba instead. No visa required and much the same weather as Southern Florida.

And less guns.
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Old 04.03.2014, 21:50
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

Guys,

Can I just say... wow. And thank you for your prompt replies.

Honestly, I really felt stupid when posting this article. I thought, come on, it can't be that difficult, I must be missing something obvious.

Apparently not.

And you're right. The best solution seems to be for my Swiss wife to re-apply for a passport, even though her passport doesn't expire for another 5 years !! It never crossed my mind that that would've been the answer.

Many thanks for your help, and I hope this thread helps others in years to come.


Mike

P.S. I don't want this thread to go off-track, but I can't help thinking... why ?! We live in one of the safest counties in the world, but a Swiss passport from 2008 isn't even good enough to go on a family-holiday to the States. It's just odd that, with this passport, game over, you can't even apply for a ESTA tourist visa. Strangely, for once, my UK passport seems more "trustworthy". Have they not seen us Brits in Ibiza ?

Oh, and our flights & hotel are cancellable... and my wife is currently checking out the Seychelles !!!
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Old 05.03.2014, 09:46
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

A little more information, for anyone hitting the same issue as us.

The Passport office in Aarau has a good website, showing you a timetable of 15-minute slots where you can book an appointment to get your passport photos and fingerprints done.



Today is March 5th, their next free slot is on March 24th, and from there, you are expected to leave upto 2 weeks for your new passport to be delivered, taking us (upto) April 7th.

So, in our case, getting a new passport will take upto a month.

You've been warned !

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to offer advice. We really appreciate it.
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Old 05.03.2014, 11:39
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

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Guys,

[...]
P.S. I don't want this thread to go off-track, but I can't help thinking... why ?! We live in one of the safest counties in the world, but a Swiss passport from 2008 isn't even good enough to go on a family-holiday to the States. It's just odd that, with this passport, game over, you can't even apply for a ESTA tourist visa. Strangely, for once, my UK passport seems more "trustworthy". Have they not seen us Brits in Ibiza ?

Oh, and our flights & hotel are cancellable... and my wife is currently checking out the Seychelles !!!


The USA had said that from Oct 2006 only biometric passports will be valid for visa-free. Some countries were quicker than others to switch to biometric, with the UK just managing it down to the last day. The Swiss were more slow, which meant that passports issued in a time window late 2006 onwards are no good. Your passport is not biometric hence the problem. It doesnt mean you cannot fly to the USA, but you cannot fly using ESTA.
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Old 04.03.2014, 21:02
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

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Partly because I have to type in all the personal details about all of us, even our 4-year-old's passport details and all of the details about which flight she's taking (errr, she's coming with us..)
This part of the questions ist not mandatory. You don't have to fill in the optional details about flight, where your are bording etc. (see "help" upper right corner on ESTA)

Hier the Link to apply for a new Swiss passport. It takes about 15 days, but your family will need an appointment for providing the biometrics (fingerprints, photo)

http://www.baden.ch/xml_1/internet/d...d1/d37/f51.cfm
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Old 04.03.2014, 21:24
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Re: Holiday to USA - problem with ESTA

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Again, have any Swissies hit this problem, and what have you done ?
My wife had the same problem a few years ago. Although her passport was only a year old, it was quicker by far to get a new passport than apply for a visa.

(which is what someone else said )
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