ESTA For US Travel Will Now Cost You Money

We've told you before how travelling to the US doesn't generally need a visa, but does require you to acquire an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval. As of September 8, that will no longer be a free service: you'll have to pay $US14 for the privilege.

The US government points out that Australia charges a similar fee for visitors here, so it's not exactly rational to complain. A more practical barrier for some people is that payment will only be possible by credit card.

Regardless, make sure you have a ESTA if you're planning to travel under the visa waiver scheme: if you don't, you won't be allowed on the plane when you hit the airport. Applying for a visa is more complicated and expensive, and so only makes sense if it's a requirement, as it is for journalists and people from countries which don't take part in the waiver program.

You only need to pay the ESTA fee once in a two-year period; after that, it's good for multiple trips. Be sure to check our list of other traps to avoid when travelling to the USA.

ESTA


Comments

    I'm going to the USA in October but applied for my ESTA a few months ago on a whim because it was easy online. Lucky!

    Can they spend the money making their site actually look legit.
    It amazes me how basic it looks

      At least they're legit! Check out this dodgy site that's asking $49.50 for a 'GUIDE'

      Legal Disclaimer: ESTA-America.org is a private information website not affiliated with the United States Government.

      I found this site from google a few results below the official link...

        Reminder this is not legit:
        http://www.esta.us/esta.html
        (Browse with care)

    I went through the forms online in January this year heading through the US from Canada. Only to arrive at the airport and told I needed to fill out the old green card! I handed over the confirmation numbers, the lady insisted, all passengers must fill out a green card. Annoying, but would be worse if I had paid the fee twice for my daughter and myself also. Hope this gets sorted out once they begin charging.

      This has always been the case -- the ESTA is a requirement but doesn't obviate the need to fill out the physical card. (Same applies with full visas, though the white card for visa holders does have a few less questions.)

    Angus Kidman
    August 16, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    This has always been the case — the ESTA is a requirement but doesn’t obviate the need to fill out the physical card. (Same applies with full visas, though the white card for visa holders does have a few less questions.)

    This used to be the case however I flew from Sydney to the States on 17 July and was advised inflight that anyone who applied online for ESTA did not need to complete the IW-94 form. I cleared LA customs with no problems whatsoever.

      Interesting - but surely that would be everyone who didn't actually have a visa. Welcome development if it's permanent.

    Depends on the web, the cost of ESTA is higher or lower. On the official website, the cost is $ 14, but there are other immigration agencies or travel companies transacting ESTA a slightly higher price. The range is from $14 to $100.
    It is very important to choose a good web ESTA to process without problem.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now