The US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days. You don't have to get a traditional visa, but you will need to provide personal information in an online form at least 72 hours prior to travel
. This is known as an Electronic Travel System Authorisation or ESTA, and is mandatory for all travel into the US. Once you've applied for an ESTA it remains valid for two years
, or until your passport expires (whichever comes first). Application for the ESTA costs $14 (£9)
, and payments must be made online with a credit card. If you do not have internet access, a third party such as a relative or travel agent may apply for the ESTA for you, but make certain that they fill out all the proper information because you will be held legally responsible for the questions answered on your behalf. Obtaining an ESTA should not be confused with the separate requirement, which will continue to apply, for you to provide your airline with details of your passport, country of residence and address of your first night's accommodation in the US. Travellers are advised to use only the official government website when applying for an ESTA as there are unauthorized sites which charge for information about ESTA and for submitting applications.
To enter the US under the Visa Waiver Program, make certain that your passport contains a machine-readable zone (MRZ). You will see this at the bottom of the photo page; there should be 2 lines of text as letters, numbers and chevrons (>>>). If the area is blank, the passport is not machine-readable and you need to apply for a visa.
For more information, and to apply online, please visit the official ESTA website at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/