ESTA vs visa for Spanish travelers to USA

For Spanish travelers, the allure of the American dream often begins with the trivia of planning a trip to the USA. Whether you’re drawn to the neon lights of Las Vegas, the hustle and bustle of New York City, or the sun-kissed beaches of California, one crucial step before you embark on your American adventure is understanding the entry requirements for Spanish citizens. Among the various options, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and traditional visas might seem confusing, but we’re here to demystify the process for you.

What is the ESTA?

The ESTA is a streamlined travel authorization designed for citizens of countries under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), including Spain. It makes short-term travel (90 days or less) for tourism, business, or transit to the USA much simpler. You don’t need to visit a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, as the entire process can be completed online. An ESTA is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first, allowing multiple entries into the United States within that time frame.

Applying for an ESTA

For Spanish travelers keen on avoiding the lengthy visa application process, obtaining an ESTA is a convenient alternative. To apply, you should:

  • 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. PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay & Credit Card.
  • Get your ESTA emailed to you within 72hrs. We’ll email you your approved travel authorization 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.

When Would a Visa Be Necessary?

While the ESTA is convenient, it is not suitable for all types of travel. Spanish travelers who plan to stay for more than 90 days, intend to work or study, or seek permanent residence in the USA will need to obtain a visa. Visas come in different categories, such as tourist visas (B-2), business visas (B-1), work visas (H-1B, L-1), student visas (F-1, M-1), and others, tailored to the specific reason for your travel. Applying for a visa requires an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and can be a more complex process compared to the ESTA application.

ESTA vs Visa: A Comparison for Spanish Travelers

To paint a clear picture, here’s a comparison between the ESTA and a visa:

  • Application Process: The ESTA application is entirely online, quick, and can be done from anywhere, while a visa application involves a visit to a consulate or embassy and a more detailed process.
  • Duration of Stay: The ESTA allows for stays up to 90 days per entry, whereas visas can allow for longer stays, depending on the type and classification of the visa.
  • Usage: An ESTA is used primarily for tourism, short-term business, or transit. For work, study, or long-term stays, a visa is required.
  • Validity Period: An approved ESTA is typically valid for two years or until the passport expires. Visas have varied validity periods.
  • Cost: An ESTA is generally less expensive than a visa.

For Spanish citizens, selecting between an ESTA and a visa comes down to the nature of the trip to the USA. If you fall under the guidelines for an ESTA and are from a VWP Country, it’s by far the most streamlined option available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the ESTA a Visa?

No, the ESTA is not a visa. It is an authorization to travel under the Visa Waiver Program. It requires a less rigorous application process and does not grant the same rights as a visa.

Can the ESTA be used for multiple entries into the USA?

Yes, within its two-year validity period, an ESTA can be used for multiple entries, as long as each stay does not exceed 90 days.

What happens if my ESTA application is denied?

If your ESTA application is denied, you will need to apply for a visa to travel to the USA. It’s important to ensure all information provided during the ESTA application is accurate and truthful to avoid complications.


For Spanish travelers, the choice between an ESTA and a traditional visa is largely determined by the purpose and duration of their intended stay in the USA. The ESTA offers a convenient and fast option for short visits, while various visa categories are available for more specific or extended needs. Whichever route you take, ensuring proper documentation is in place is paramount for a stress-free entry to the USA. To start your seamless travel authorization process, simply apply here for your ESTA and get ready to explore the vibrant culture and vast opportunities that await in the United States.

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