ESTA online registration for U.S. travel debuts smoothly at Narita

NARITA, Chiba Pref. (Kyodo) There was little trouble or confusion reported among travelers Monday at Narita International Airport, when it became mandatory for short-term visitors to the United States without a visa to receive prior travel authorization via the Internet.

Online registration with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization became a requirement for all nationals who visit the U.S. for 90 days or less for business or pleasure without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program.

Travelers are required to access the ESTA Web site to get authorization at least 72 hours before departure and provide personal information and other data in response to about 20 questions. Without an approval number, passengers are unable to check in for a flight.

On Monday, the first day the requirement became mandatory, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways set up computer terminals near check-in counters for travelers who had not received an authorization number.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo also set up a booth at the airport where consular officials and staff helped passengers.