The nationals of the 26 Schengen Area countries, Croatia, Ireland and the United Kingdom, will now have to pay a 70 per cent increased travel promotion fee when applying for an American Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), as the same has increased from US $10 to US $17.
Given that travellers from these 29 European countries also need to pay an operational fee of US $4 dollars, the overall ESTA fee has increased from US $14 to US $21, and will remain the same until 2027, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
ESTA is a travel authorization that 40 world countries under the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) who are permitted to enter the US visa-free for business and tourism purposes, for stays up to 90 days within any six months, are obliged to obtain before their trip to the US.
According to Lum Kamishi from VisaGuide.World, the increase in ESTA fees is not something uncommon since the US authorities increase the price of the visa waiver, as well as of both immigrant and non-immigrant visas, based on the country’s needs.
He also points out that while obtaining an ESTA was free of charge in 2009, when the system was launched, the price of US $10 was introduced only later and increased to US $14 only in 2015. Since then, the ESTA fees have not changed up until now.
“The increase is completely normal and quite understandable, as the previous US $10 is used by the authorities to promote tourism. Due to inflation and the stagnation tourism has experienced throughout the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear that the US is trying to increase the budget for the sector and give it a boost,” Kamishi highlights.
According to data published by VisaGuide.World, in 2019 alone, over 15 million travellers used an ESTA to enter the US, a large share of them from Europe.
While these travellers paid US $212,5 million to obtain their ESTA-s used in 2019, by 2027, when the number of travellers entering the US with an ESTA is projected to surpass 16 million, the same will pay almost US $345 million.
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The fee increase will affect travellers from the countries that are listed as the top source markets of tourists and businesspersons travelling to the US with an ESTA, and in particular the United Kingdom.
British travellers holding an ESTA crossed the US borders 4,757,992 times in 2019, which ESTA-s costed to them altogether a total of $66,611,888. In spite of a slight increase in the number of Brits travelling to the US in 2027, the same will be spending US $100,288,671 for ESTA-s that they will use to travel there in the same year.
French nationals are the third largest national group of ESTA holders travelling to the US in 2019. The country will keep its spot even in 2027 when 2,488,899 French nationals are projected by VisaGuide.World to be travelling to the US with an ESTA. The 17.1 per cent increase in the number of travellers as well as the fee hike will both be reflected in the amount of money paid for ESTA-s by French nationals travelling the US in 2027, which will amount to US $52,266,879, almost twice as in 2019.
The American ESTA is quite similar to the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), which is set to become fully effective by May 2023. The ETIAS will affect 1.4 billion travellers from 63 world countries, including the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and more. It will, however, cost only €7.
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Europeans to Pay a 70% Higher Travel Promotion Fee to Obtain a US ESTA Travel Authorization