If you’re a visitor hoping to step foot on US soil, you’re probably familiar with the ESTA. The electronic travel authorization is both a security pre-screening initiative, and a way to raise funds to “support” US tourism and its many impacts.
Despite increases in visitor fees around the world, the US kept ESTA prices level for quite a while, but as of May 26th, 2022, that’s changed. Validity will remain for two years once approved, for multiple visits, but the price has gone up to $21.
Here’s everything you need to know about the changes, and tips for applying for ESTA’s, given some recent changes in processing.
United States ESTA Fee Rises To $21
Effective immediately, if you go to apply for an ESTA to enter the United States, the price is $21, rather than the $14 previously charged. The new fee rise comes ahead of many countries raising or initiating visitor fees in the wake of Covid-19.
CBP will begin collecting the new fee amount on May 26, 2022. Individuals with an approved ESTA do not have to re-apply at this time, as an ESTA is valid for up to two years.United States CBP
The European Union will launch its $8 ETIAS visitor fee in May of 2023. With the new fee, it will no longer be possible for outside visitors to just hop on a plane to Europe, until the fee has been paid and entry status has been approved.
The U.S. claims $7 of the new ESTA fee will be spent on promoting US tourism via a collaboration between public and private sectors.
In 2019 and years prior, the US was one of the only leading tourism destinations with dwindling numbers compared to other world leaders. Spain and France continued to see steady growth, yet the US became stagnant with inbound visitors.
Leave Plenty Of Time
Historically, ESTA’s could come back with approvals in a matter of minutes. That’s still theoretically possible, particularly for returning applicants who are simply renewing.
If it’s your first time applying, or you want a stress free travel experience, the US now suggests leaving at least 72 hours between submitting your ESTA application and any travel to the US. The sooner, the better.
Don’t Forget Global Entry!
If you’re eligible for the ESTA program, you may also be eligible for Global Entry. The $100 fee covers fast tracked entry to the US for five years, and also secures access to TSA PreCheck, which expedites departures.
There you have it! ESTA’s now cost $21 and are still valid for two years. If you’re headed to the US after a pause in travel, be sure to check your ESTA status well in advance to avoid any stressful airport situations!