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Price of ESTA to travel to America set for rise

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Anyone travelling to or through the US will need to pay 50% more for their ESTA from tomorrow.

Brits travelling to the US under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for an ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorisation.

It currently costs $14 but for applications as of tomorrow (Thursday 26 May), it will cost $21, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed.

The ESTA fee is made up of a ‘travel promotion fee’ of $10 which will rise to $17 tomorrow, plus a $4 operational fee which will remain unchanged.

This $4 fee will need to be paid even if your application for an ESTA is rejected.

What is the ESTA?

The ESTA is an automated system which determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

However, it doesn’t guarantee entry to the States as the final decision rests with the Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of entry.

Under VWP, nationals of 40 countries, including the United Kingdom, who travel to the States by air, land or sea must be approved for an ESTA.

It replaced the green I-94W card and is valid for two years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

You can only apply online and it allows travellers to remain in the States for up to 90 days at a time.

According to the CBP, the estimated average time to complete the application is 23 minutes and you’ll usually find out within 72 hours if you’ve been approved or denied.

Children need their own ESTA and you can pay by debit card, credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Amex and Discover) or via PayPal. Depending on the method you use, you could be charged additional fees for the international payment.

CBP recommends holidaymakers apply for an ESTA at the time you book your travel, and no less than 72 hours prior to boarding.

Watch out for copycat ESTA websites which can charge you more money for submitting the form on your behalf. This is the official US Customs and Border Protection site to apply for an ESTA.

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