We wish to remind our readers and clients that a new fee goes into effect starting on September 8, 2010 for Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) registration. ESTA is a required pre-travel registration for Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers to the U.S.
About the Fee
The fee will be in the amount of $14.00 and will be required to be paid via credit card (MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover) at the time of completion of the ESTA pre-travel registration. An ESTA registration is valid for up to two years so the fee will not need to be paid for subsequent VWP travels within this two-year period before a new ESTA registration (and fee) will be required.
The fee was mandated by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 which mandates that the ESTA funds will be partnered with private funds for the purpose of U.S. travel promotion.
Fee Becomes Effective September 8, 2010
All ESTA registrations submitted on or after September 8, 2010 will require the payment of the new fee. VWP travelers who plan to visit the U.S. in the near future may want to submit their ESTA registration in advance of this date.
The mandatory nature of the fee and the fact that it can only be paid via certain credit cards through the ESTA website has caused some concerns. Although many Visa Waiver Countries travelers have access to credit cards at their disposal, the credit card payment requirement may deter or inconvenience some VWP travelers during their ESTA registration process. As of now, there are no other alternative methods for paying the fee.
Visa Waiver Countries
As a reminder, the Visa Waiver Countries are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.