The US Government is to start charging £9 from Britons visiting to the USA. This charge would be levied upon British nationals for the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) form that is filled online.

The US Government is to start charging £9 from Britons visiting the country. This charge would be levied upon British nationals for the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) form that is filled online. Residents of all the countries that are part of America’s Visa Waiver Program need to fill this form to seek prior approval to visit the US. The UK is one of the countries covered by the Visa Waiver Program.

The ESTA form is a replacement of the green I-94 card, which was previously filled up by passengers. Presently, the ESTA application is free of cost, but this is set to change from 9th September, 2010 when the charges will apply. With some 4 million Britons visiting the US every year, the country stands to make a significant financial gain from these applications. Revenue generated from the fee would go towards the promotion of tourism in the US.

The new rule would not affect those who already possess a valid ESTA form, at least until it expires. All ESTA applications from the UK on or after 09th September 2010 would be charged this £9 fee. Once approved, the ESTA form is valid for two years after which a fresh authorisation to enter the US is to be sought. Therefore experts say that frequent travellers to the US or those who foresee frequent travel to the US in next two years can file the ESTA form before 9th September 2010 to avoid the ESTA fee for all their US travel within this period.

Although travellers get the authorisation within minutes of filing the form online, it may take up to 72 hours to approve one form, sources state. Therefore, travellers are advised to submit the online application forms at least 72 hours before departure of their flights. Any one without this form would be denied boarding on all flights to the United States.

Important Facts about ESTA

  • ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a pre-authorization or prior approval to enter the US under the visa waiver programme. It is not a visa.
  • Through ESTA, the United States government pre-screens all Visa Waiver Travellers before they start their travel to the US. Only the nationals of the Visa Waiver Programme participant countries should apply.
  • You can apply for ESTA only if you are travelling to the US for business or pleasure and your travel if for 90 days or less.
  • Any British National who wants to enter the United States or transit through the United States (by air or sea) is required to apply for ESTA.
  • ESTA must be applied on individual basis and not as a group. Each traveller must have his or her own approved ESTA Application in order to be allowed entry on any US bound flight.
  • All ESTA applicants must possess valid machine-readable passports.
  • All ESTA applications must be made at least 72 hours prior to commencement of travel to the United States.
  • ESTA application is made online and the confirmation details are visible on the computer screen. It is advised that you take a print out of your approved ESTA form or note the ESTA Unique Application Number in one or several ways to be allowed entry on your US bound flights.
  • The countries that currently a part of the visa waiver program 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, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
  • In case your ESTA Application is declined, visit the US Department of State Web for information on applying for a visa.
  • An approved ESTA Travel Application does not guarantee entry in to the United States.
  • For more information on the ESTA application, visit the Official U.S. Government Web Site.

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