ESTA prices will rise 50% to $21 from 26 May

Posted By Foster | Section: International News
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Price rise: The cost of an ESTA - a condition of entry for non-US citizens to the States - will now cost $21 per person


Price of an ESTA to visit the US will rise 50% tomorrow meaning an additional £22 outlay for a family of four heading across the Atlantic

  • Fee to visit the US as a tourist is increasing from $14 to $21 from 26 May
  • It’s the first time the cost of an ESTA has increased since 2015 from $4 to $14
  • The increase will add to tourism promotional costs: 80% of the total charge
  • US Customs said the increase is ‘small’ compared to the cost you pay to travel

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Travellers heading to the US will pay an additional $7 (£6) on their ESTA application from 26 May.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is used by the US to determine if inbound tourists are eligible to travel to the US using the Visa Waiver Program.

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The price is going up from $14 (£11) to $21 (£17) at short notice and 80 per cent of that will go towards promotional costs, meaning inbound holidaymakers will be bearing the brunt of the US’s tourism advertising.

It means a family of four will face an extra $28 to visit the US, or £22 – and in total it will cost $84 (£67).

Price rise: The cost of an ESTA - a condition of entry for non-US citizens to the States - will now cost $21 per person

Price rise: The cost of an ESTA – a condition of entry for non-US citizens to the States – will now cost $21 per person

If you have a passport that will cover the timing of the trip to the US and are planning in the next two years, you can apply for an ESTA today to dodge the price rise. 

Currently, $4 of the ESTA charge pays for the running of the system, while the other $10 used to promote tourism to the US.

The change to pricing was originally authorised in 2019, but was put on pause during the Covid pandemic. 

From 26 May, the additional $7 dollar charge will be added to help pay for more US tourism promotion, making up $17 per application.  

The US has maintained some of the strictest travel requirements for Covid and continue to require visitors to provide a negative test taken no more than one day before their travel date – regardless of vaccination status.

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This means travellers are still expected to pay for private Covid tests, which can set you back an additional £20 per person at the lowest cost, and upwards of £89 for rapid testing.

It means all-in-all, a family of four face currently face an outlay of at least £147 to enter the US (those aged under 2 do not require a Covid test pre-departure). 

But, the US Customs and Border Protection, which administers the scheme and collects the fees, said that the increase in fee is small when you factor in the entire price of your holiday and travel costs.

Its spokesperson 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 US, CBP anticipates that the fee increase will not adversely affect travel to the US.’

There are 40 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program. It allows travellers to enter the US for up to 90 days without the need for a visa.

Next year, Europe is introducing its own similar ESTA system, which will mean a fee for Britons heading to mainland Europe.

The European Travel Information and Authorization System will be mandatory for travellers and is likely to have a €7 fee.

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When applying for an ESTA, it is important to use the official US Customs and Boarder Protection website.

A search online for ESTA can throw up websites that charge you a premium for a relatively straightforward task.

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