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Old 11-07-2012, 01:20 AM   #1
WanderlustNZ
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Boring stuff: Passports and ESTA

Hi everyone,
I'm hoping you can help me with a few questions I have regarding the boring, yet necessary, aspects to U.S. Travel.

Firstly, how far in advance do people usually do their ESTA applications?

Secondly, does anyone know how many months (if any) you have to have left on your passport to enter the States. I had 6 months in my head, but I can't seem to find anything online to confirm this. I will have only 6 1/2 months left on my passport from the date we arrive back on NZ soil, and my son will have 7 1/2. I want to check this will be enough.

Thanks!
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:42 AM   #2
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Hi!!
The closer to your departure date you can apply for your ESTA the better - they are valid for 2 years, so if you can manage a 2nd trip out of them it can be worthwhile!
Passports must be valid at least 6 months. If you are close to 6 months, I would get a new passport. I did that last time I went - I had 6 months and 2 days (or something!) and I just didn't want to give the lovely US Border Control any reason to not let me in!!
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Old 11-07-2012, 02:53 AM   #3
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I am pretty sure it is 6mths for the passport validity, and for the Esta's you have to apply at least 72hrs in advance and it is valid for 2 yrs. Both my passport & the Mr's had expired so I applied for new ones last month and when they arrived did the esta's just so it was one more thing I could cross off the list.
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Old 11-07-2012, 03:27 AM   #4
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Thanks to both of you. My husband's passport expires next year and we wont be able to get the ESTA's until we get his new passport. On one hand I want to hold off until closer to the trip to get both, so to get as much value as possible from his passport. On the other hand, I'm extra cautious and like to have things sorted extra early.

I just did some more research and it seems perhaps you don't need any time on your passport other than the length of the trip. A few websites I've come across state that some countries that are exempt from the 6 month rule and they list NZ and Aus as being two of them. Anyone heard this before?
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Old 11-07-2012, 05:11 AM   #5
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It may be the case, but I'm a chicken when it comes to things like that! For the sake of 6 months over 10 years validity of a passport, I would get a new one.
I'd probably wait until 2-3 months before leaving to renew the passports.
You can actually get the ESTA at the airport in a pinch - but I wouldn't wait until then!! As long as you apply a week or so before you leave you will be fine!
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hjd0411 View Post
It may be the case, but I'm a chicken when it comes to things like that! For the sake of 6 months over 10 years validity of a passport, I would get a new one.
I'd probably wait until 2-3 months before leaving to renew the passports.
You can actually get the ESTA at the airport in a pinch - but I wouldn't wait until then!! As long as you apply a week or so before you leave you will be fine!
NZ Pssports are only valid for 5 years
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:28 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by WanderlustNZ View Post
Thanks to both of you. My husband's passport expires next year and we wont be able to get the ESTA's until we get his new passport. On one hand I want to hold off until closer to the trip to get both, so to get as much value as possible from his passport. On the other hand, I'm extra cautious and like to have things sorted extra early.

I just did some more research and it seems perhaps you don't need any time on your passport other than the length of the trip. A few websites I've come across state that some countries that are exempt from the 6 month rule and they list NZ and Aus as being two of them. Anyone heard this before?
I have read about the 6 mth exemption as well. But I think I also am too chicken to test it out!
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline NZ

NZ Pssports are only valid for 5 years
Yeah, I'm not a fan of this change.
My present passport is 10 years and full of all the stamps and visas I collected when doing my O.E. It might sound silly, but I would love to add this final trip to it and then keep it as a memento (hopefully they still send them back to you) of 10 years of wonderful memories.
Now that I have all these grown up responsibilities (family and mortgage) and the passports only last 5 years, any passports I get from now on are pretty much going to expire almost empty.
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Old 11-07-2012, 02:33 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by WanderlustNZ

(hopefully they still send them back to you)
You don't need to send your old one back at all now, they just send a canceled sticker back with your new one to pop on the front. Actually, you can now apply for a renewal online, that was announced a couple of weeks ago, along with a reduction in fees (of course this was 2 weeks after we renewed ours).
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Old 11-07-2012, 03:08 PM   #10
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I can only speak for NZ passport holders but, yes, when visiting the U.S. or Australia, we only need to have a passport that is valid for the intended length of stay. That's handy for visiting Aus but not really for the U.S. since we have to get ESTA's. Your ESTA is valid for a maximum of 2 years but only as long as the passport is valid. So to maximise the value of the ESTA (and presuming you might visit again within its two year validity), you'd really want to get your ESTA in a passport that has at least two years to go on it.
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Old 11-07-2012, 10:08 PM   #11
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Thank you Beee and Travel Mum. Both of your comments are really helpful.
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Old 11-09-2012, 05:02 AM   #12
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Your ESTA is valid for a maximum of 2 years but only as long as the passport is valid.
Ah, that explains why the ESTAs we got for our trip last year have expired already! (They email you to let you know.)
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