USA: Transit Visa vs. ESTA for Chilean Nationals: What You Need to Know

Embarking on a journey is an exhilarating experience, and for many travelers from around the world, including those from Chile, the voyage can often include a layover or transit in the United States. Be it to marvel at the sprawling urban landscapes of New York, the glitzy promenades of Los Angeles, or the historical treasures in Washington D.C., the U.S. offers a taste of its diverse culture and attractions, even to those just passing through.

For Chilean nationals transiting through the U.S., it’s important to have the correct travel authorization to ensure a smooth trip. Although the word ‘visa’ is frequently searched, what you may actually need is an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) if you’re a Chilean passport holder.

Understanding the Transit ESTA for Chileans

If you are a Chilean national looking to transit through the U.S. to a subsequent destination, you should be aware of the requirements of the ESTA. As part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), Chilean citizens are eligible to apply for an ESTA instead of a traditional transit visa. This makes the process of passing through the U.S. more convenient and efficient.

Remember, the ESTA is not only for tourist or business visitors but also perfectly suits individuals who need to transit through the United States. It allows for a stay of up to 90 days, which is more than enough for most transit situations.

How to Apply for an ESTA as a Chilean

The application process for an ESTA is straightforward and can be completed quickly. Here’s how you can secure your travel authorization:

  • Fill out our easy-to-use online application form. The application takes about 10 minutes. Make sure to have your passport handy.
  • Submit & Pay for your application. We accept all payment types including PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, & Credit Card.
  • Get your ESTA emailed to you within 72hrs. We’ll email you your approved travel authorisation and that’s it, you’re ready to go!

If you need your ESTA in a hurry, you can choose from our two expedited processing options. Simply select your add-on at checkout.

Requirements for Chilean Citizens

As a Chilean citizen, to apply for an ESTA, you must have a valid e-passport. This is a passport with an embedded electronic chip which you must bring to the U.S. as it contains biometric information linked to your ESTA approval.


The ESTA remains valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. You can enter the U.S. multiple times during the span of its validity if transiting to other destinations.


Once the ESTA or your passport expires, you will need to apply for a new ESTA for future transits through the United States.

Transiting Through the U.S.: Practical Tips for Chileans

While waiting for your connecting flight, you may wish to explore the airports’ amenities or even step outside to catch a brief glimpse of American life. To make the most of your layover, always ensure:

  • You are aware of the entry requirements for your final destination.
  • You have all necessary documents for your following leg of the journey.
  • You’ve informed your airline that you will be transiting through the U.S. so they can assist with any required procedures.

FAQs for Chilean Transit ESTA

Do I need an ESTA even if I’m not leaving the airport?

Yes, even if you are not planning to leave the airport, all Chilean citizens transiting through the U.S. must have an ESTA.

Can I visit cities in the U.S. with a transit ESTA?

Absolutely! A transit ESTA allows you to visit and tour within the U.S. as long as you stay within the 90-day period granted under the Visa Waiver Program.

Is an ESTA guarantee entry into the U.S.?

An ESTA approval is not a guarantee of entry, as the final decision rests with the Customs and Border Patrol officer at the port of entry.


A journey that includes a layover in the United States can be both an exciting and complex undertaking for Chilean travelers. Securing a transit ESTA should be high on your checklist to avoid any potential issues and make your journey as smooth as possible. For more in-depth information on the ESTA and to begin your application form, visit our dedicated service page that caters specifically to your travel needs.

Safe travels, and enjoy your transit through the fascinating landscape of the United States!

Share this...