US Esta fee set to soar by 50% for travellers from Thursday

‘The fee increase will not adversely affect travel to the United States,’ says US Customs and Border Protection

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 25 May 2022 10:30 BST
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Border line: International passenger arriving at Newark Liberty airport
Border line: International passenger arriving at Newark Liberty airport (John Denmark/CBP)

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Travellers to the US face a 50 per cent rise in the fee for the “Esta” permit that the vast majority of British visitors use.

From Thursday 26 May, the charge for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization rises from $14 (£11) to $21 (£17).

Anyone planning to visit America in the next two years, and who has a passport that will cover the timing of the trip, can apply on Wednesday to dodge the price rise.

This automated system usually grants permission to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa.

The scheme came into effect in 2009.

Initially it was free, but soon a $10 fee was introduced. In 2015 this increased to $14 – with $4 paying for the running of the system, and the other $10 used to promote tourism to the US.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which administers the scheme and collects the fees, said: “Up to $100m of fee revenue goes to the Travel Promotion Fund.

“As the $7 fee increase is relatively small compared to costs involved to travel to the United States, CBP anticipates that the fee increase will not adversely affect travel to the United States.”

The increase to a total of $21 was authorised in 2019, but due to the coronavirus pandemic it has not yet taken effect.

Online searches for “Esta application” and similar terms can often lead to commercial sites that offer no value but charge high supplementary fees.

The official site is esta.cbp.dhs.gov.

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