Going to the USA in the Next 2 Years?

By | Category: Travel news

If you are thinking about going to the United States in the next two years, it will pay you to apply for your ESTA authorisation now while it is still free. (ESTA authorisations have to be renewed after 2 years.) Even if you’re not sure whether you would want to visit it does no harm to get your ESTA application now. If you don’t go there it doesn’t matter. Why? Because from September 8th, the US government will charge you $14 for each application. What happens if you have one already? It is still valid and you won’t be asked to pay more. You will only have to pay when you renew.
You might think that $14 isn’t much to pay given all the other costs that travellers face. But there is no sense in paying if you don’t have to. At the moment $14 is about £8.90 and this fee will apply to everyone who has a passport and doesn’t have a visa, ie your normal leisure traveller. I know a family that is considering a Florida holiday next May. There will be 6 adults and four children and one of the children has their own passport. So for the 7 of them it will be $98 or about £62 50. For them, it’s worth doing now. It will give them the spending money probably for a meal out together or entrance into one of the theme parks for a day.
The next thing to watch is the site to log your details. There are some sites that will charge you money so steer away from them. They do no more than pass your details to the official site, https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/esta.html?_flowExecutionKey=_c29125178-5583-AC97-667F-ECD45A7B5395_k0ED52D4D-3482-3195-CEF5-B87594C24A8C. If you are using a search engine and search on “ESTA”, don’t click on any of the sponsored links that come up first. These will be commercial sites and they will charge. Click on the one that says “Official US Government Website.” Prices for the non-official ones are about $49.50 and it is money for old rope. Being automated, they do next to nothing for their money and you would be the only person that is out of pocket.
One other piece of advice. Keep a copy of your application or make a note of the number. Each time you visit the US you will have to update the details of where you will be staying and who you are flying with. Without this number you may not be able to track you details. And that means applying for another ESTA which will cost.

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