The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will bump up the cost of the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) from US$10 to US$17 for the next five years.
The ESTA provides citizens from nearly 40 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program with entry to the United States for a period of up to 90 days for business or pleasure, without the need for a nonimmigrant visa. Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program include Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and multiple European nations.
The increased ESTA cost will go towards the USA’s Travel Promotion Act (TPA) which in part funds the USA’s primary tourism bureau, Brand USA.
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Additionally, there is a US$4 operational fee, meaning the total fee for an approved ESTA will increase from US$14 to US$21.
According to paperwork filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DOHS), the change took effect on 20 May 2022, but reports suggest the change will take place on 26 May.
The TPA collects up to US$100 million annually from the ESTA, with additional revenue generated by the fee increase to be retained by the US Treasury.
“As the $7 fee increase is relatively small compared to costs involved to travel to the United States, CBP anticipates that the fee increase will not adversely affect travel to the United States,” the document viewed by LATTE states.
According to the filing with the Federal Register, the number of approved ESTAs fell from a high of 15.2 million in FY2019 to just 1.2 million in FY2021 due to the COVID pandemic. However the DOHS forecasts numbers will bounce back to 15.4 million for FY2022, and steadily increase to 16.4 million through to FY2027.
The total revenue generated from the fee increase over the next six years, from FY 2022 to 2027, is expected to top US$603 million.
Effective 1 October 2027, the fee for using ESTA will be purely the operational charge of US$4.