Saturday, August 7, 2010

Travelling to the USA? You'll have to pay £9 to apply for permission to visit!

US to charge £9 for Esta compulsory travel entry form
The US government is to start charging UK travellers $14 (£9) to apply for permission to enter the country. The compulsory Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (Esta) is free at present, but from 9 September visitors to the US will have to pay for it.
[link via BBC News]

How charming (not)! Charging £9 for permission to visit the USA. What a funny way to encourage tourism!!

I think it's an absolutely ridiculous idea. Add it to the standard (in my experience) very unfriendly welcome from Immigration and Customs agents and it's a wonder tourists consider visiting the USA at all.

What are your views about the new charge for ESTA? Have you visited the USA before? What are your experiences with the Immigration and Customs agents?



ESTA Application For UK Citizens

21 comments:

  1. It seems that the United States government believes that anyone who travels abroad must be rich. Passport fees have recently increased in the United States by $35 to $110 for a renewal. They know you can't go anywhere else so they have you over a barrel.

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  2. Yes, I know American passport fees have increased recently. British passport fees are also quite pricey.

    Your comment doesn't really have anything to do with this post though. The fact is that the US government is going to start charging UK travellers $14 (£9) to apply for permission to enter the country. It's not a very clever way to encourage British tourists to visit the USA!

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  3. I wonder what the reaction would have been had it been the other way round with the UK charging Americans!
    Needless to say I think that it's a shortsighted policy which will only (further) irritate travellers.
    I've not been to the USA but a friend who regularly goes there has nearly always found the officials unwelcoming at best! Flighty xx

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  4. I had the very same thought, Flighty! You can bet Americans would be very annoyed if they had to apply for permission to visit the UK - and pay for the application.

    I agree with you. I think will only further irritate travellers.

    I'm sorry to hear about your friend's unpleasant experiences with officials there. It's truly awful that they seem to have that reputation. I have to say that even though I'm American, my experience has been the same - they aren't welcoming towards me either!

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  5. The fee goes into effect from September 8, 2010, not September 9, 2010.

    Apply before September 8 to beat the fee--the authorization is good for two years.

    This is an interim final rule and can be commented on (see CBP.GOV).

    U.S. passport fees are also inflated with hidden costs-such as aiding travelers in distress.

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  6. BBC News reported it starts from 9 September.

    Thanks for the information.

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  7. It's not different from the charge to visit Australia, which is A20$ for a one year visa. I think it's reasonable in this context.

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  8. Ridiculous! I really do hate immigration and border agencies and the like. Sure they'll let you in, but they'll milk you for all it's worth!

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  9. Australia has long had a similar fee (A$20) and a similar electronic visa system, the US is just copying it. I'm not sure that's done much to decrease the interest in Australian tourism.

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  10. NFAH - Interesting that the USA is just copying the Australian system. It seems to me that the UK should also set up the same system. At least it would be fair then. Americans should also have to apply for permission to visit the UK - and pay for the application.

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  11. Lis, I agree. I dislike all the bureaucracy - and the cost.

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  12. Whilst the cost is an annoyance it is the attitude of the officials that is so poor. My elderly mother in law, travelling on a British passport had such a bad experience the last time she came with us that she now refuses to visit America.She found dealing with them a genuinely frightening experience.

    Peter Bond

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  13. How awful for your mother in law! I don't blame her for refusing to visit America again if her first experience with the officials was so bad.

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  14. I understand the US and Australia have always been super strict on their immigration rules in general but to levy a charge for the privilege of visiting is just downright disgusting (i didn't know Aus did it first?).

    If THEY'RE gonna do it, then maybe we all should!! But you know the UK won't do anything, they'll just carry on regardless and leave us looking like the village idiot of the world... UK immigration issues are astounding.

    Personally, I won't be visiting the US or Oz because I don't want to go to a country that doesn't come across like it wants me there in the first place. £8/9 or not, I ain't paying. Sticking to Europe, me thinks.

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  15. It does seem strange that the UK hasn't set up the same system.

    I wouldn't be surprised if many other British people feel the same way as you do about being charged to apply for permission to visit the USA or Australia.

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  16. The BBC article had an incorrect date for the commencement of the ESTA fee. It begins on September 8, 2010. See the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency website (CBP.gov).

    I read somewhere (forgot where) that the ESTA does not automatically guarantee entry into the United States. It only guarentees that you will permitted onto the plane. You will still have to convince immigration officials that you qualify for entry under U.S. immigration rules.

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  17. Thank you for the additional information.

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  18. I thought I had read many at one point that governments often cooperate on the visa fees - or retaliate as the case may be - so that essentially if the US charges Europeans for permission to enter the country, then Europeans will do the same to Americans. There is a certain logic in having the people who use the immigration system help to fund it.

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  19. It will be interesting to see if the UK does indeed decide to start doing the same thing and require Americans to apply for permission to visit the UK, and be charged a fee for the application as well. As you say, it makes sense as it would help fund the system.

    As it stands though, it's very one-sided and understandable that this issue has provoked a lot of anger and resentment.

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  20. I had a bad experience when visiting Florida with the bad attitude of the officials at the airport they were very very unwelcoming. Politeness costs nothing. This was before 9/11 so god knows what they like now. If America does not want tourists dont bloody advertise on our TV asking us to come. Now they want us to ask permission lol, sod off. I was very pro American before this and was shocked at the time, I understand the need to protect your borders but it can be done with politness, respect and unstanding that the person has just been travelling for 9 hours in an aircraft and spent hours in an airport before flying. It put me off going on holiday in American again. Your custom officals have done more damage to American tourism then the BP oil spill thats for sure.Hmm I think you hit a nerve here lol sorry for rant

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  21. I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience with the officials at the airport in Florida and that it has made you reluctant to take any future holidays in America.

    I agree that politeness costs nothing. The officials should be capable of doing their job and still be friendly towards visitors.

    I do hope you don't judge all Americans on your bad experience at the airport though. Some of us are very friendly - and polite too!

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