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US introduces electronic visa charges

US introduces electronic visa charges

The US is to start charging travellers to apply for permission to enter the country.

The compulsory Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (Esta) is currently free but from 8 September travellers from 35 nations will have to pay $14 to use the service.

Of the fee, $10 will go to a fund to promote US tourism with $4 covering administration.

The charge applies to the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, which tourists have been required to fill online since January 2009 before being granted entry to the U.S.

The 35 countries are part of the Visa Waiver Program which requires them to complete an Esta form.


The form takes up to 72 hours to be approved and gives air passengers prior approval for entry to the US.

It is currently free, lasts for two years and is an alternative to applying for the more complex full visa.

Travellers could avoid the fee if they apply for the ESTA now.

EU commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom criticised the fee, saying it would “complicate travel”.