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.

Here’s a full list of countries eligible for Global Entry and for ESTA visa waivers. If you make multiple trips to the United States as a visitor, Global Entry is a game changer.

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!


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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    1. Hi Frances, the best thing to do is check your ESTA status. As long as it shows as approved, you should be all set. Any new applications would incur the higher fee.

  1. Hello Mr Ott…Among the two years of the ESTA, entries are unlimited?, how Long can every of these be? Is there a limit of time to consider before coming back again?
    Thank you.

  2. I know that some companies will get the ESTA for you and charge a fee. It would be useful if you could give us the address of the official site where there is no charge on top of the $21.

    1. Hey John, I agree it’s important to go direct. There are a few links to the direct site in the article. Hope that helps.

  3. I have traveled to the United States twice, in 2016 and 2019. And I had never heard of ESTA. I have a Philippine passport with multiple entry 10 year US Visa. Why was I not charged an ESTA fee?

  4. Interesting article. Have been issued with ESTA approvals on 4 previous occasions. Have just reapplied twice and been rejected.
    None of my details have changed. Only odd thing is the rejection email arrives within 10 minutes of submitting. How can this happen?

  5. Don’t let them use euphemisms to lie to you.
    These are visas and represent a step backwards for freedom of human movement.

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