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United States ESTA fee to rise by 50pc for Irish travellers this week

$7 fee increase is “relatively small compared to costs involved to travel” says US Customs and Border Protection


Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport. Photo: Deposit

Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport. Photo: Deposit

Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport. Photo: Deposit

Travellers to the US face a 50 per cent rise in the fee for the ESTA permit that the majority of Irish visitors use.

From today, the charge for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization is set to rise from $14 (€13.10) to $21 (€19.65).

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which administers the scheme, said it 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,” it added.

The ESTA is an automated system that allows visitors to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

The scheme, which came into effect in 2009, usually grants permission to travel for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa.

Initially it was free, but soon a $10 fee was introduced. In 2015 this increased to $14 – with $4 paying for the running of the system, and the other $10 used to promote tourism to the US.

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“Up to $100m of fee revenue goes to the Travel Promotion Fund,” CBP said.

“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.”

However, it comes as Irish travellers to the US face an exchange rate that sees the euro worth just $1.06, and inflation that has outstripped rates in Ireland, with 8.5pc recorded in March.

“Not so long ago, you could get about $1.20 for a euro and it was at a high of $1.60 almost back in 2008,” Daragh Cassidy, of price comparison site Bonkers.ie, recently told the Irish Independent.

The ESTA fee increase to a total of $21 was authorised in 2019, but due to the coronavirus pandemic it has not yet taken effect.

Online searches for “ESTA application” and similar terms can often lead to commercial sites that offer no value but charge high supplementary fees.

The official site is esta.cbp.dhs.gov.

- Additional reporting by Pól Ó Conghaile

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