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    New ESTA fee for citizens of visa waiver countries (September 2010)

    If you know anyone who is a citizen of a visa waiver country (which includes most European countries) planning to travel to the United States, please keep reading!
    Travel Fee Instituted 

    Since January 12, 2009 travelers to the United States from the Visa Waiver countries have been required to apply electronically for a travel authorization via the ESTA system.  The authorization is valid for two years from the date received.
    As of September 8, 2010 all travelers who are required to have an ESTA authorization will be assessed a $14 fee when they apply.  Ten dollars of this fee is the so-called "travel promotion fee" passed by Congress in an attempt to promote tourism to the United States.  This portion of the total fee will only be assessed if the travel authorization is granted.  The $4 administrative fee, imposed to help defray the costs associated with processing the ESTA applications will be assessed whether or not the travel authorization is granted.  Currently the only forms of payment accepted are the following credit/debit cards:  MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover.
    The Good News

    The travel authorization granted by ESTA is valid for an unlimited number of trips to the US for a two year period.  Fortunately, the $14 fee must only be paid each time a person applies for an ESTA authorization or renews their authorization.  In other words, the payment covers all travel to the US in the two year period.
    The other good news is that if a person has a valid ESTA travel authorization which was granted before September 8th, they do not need to reapply immediately and pay the fee.  They will not be required to pay the fee until the two year period noted on the authorization expires and they are required to renew their travel authorization.

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