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US introduces entry charges

Posted by | Evil Kristos | September 8, 2010 | No Comments

From Wednesday, September the 8th 2010 travellers to the United States will have to pay a 14 Dollar fee to fill in their online registration. What does this mean? They are basically charging entry fees to go on to US soil. Ridiculous!

Rather than looking into your face when ripping you off they charge an administration fee through their “Electronic System for Travel Authorization” (ESTA). ESTA replaced the old questionnaire – you may remember the form that you had to fill it in on the plane – a couple of years ago. And now we know why.

The new regulation applies to visitors from Visa waiver countries that travel to the US for up to 90 days. Most western European countries had such agreement with the USA where short term visitors do not require a visa.

The fee applies to tourists and business travellers alike. The only way around is to cross the border by land from Mexico and Canada.

All visitors are now required to register online on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. It more or less replicates the old questionnaire. The registration should be completed at least 72 hours before departure.

Travellers are advised not go through any other agency other than ESTA. There are a number of unauthorised “retailers” offering their services. There is no need for that. The ESTA website is available in all kind of languages. In order to register you do need a credit or debit card issued by Visa, Master or American Express though.

The registration is valid for two years and can be edited at any time (to add travel details for example).

What are the Americans trying to achieve? Well, it’s not easy to tell. Officially they want to spend the money on a campaign to boost tourism and according to officials the fee is established on a provisional basis. This quite frankly sounds so stupid that it has got to be true.

I recommend putting pressure on American airlines by first inquiring about flights to let’s say Central America with them and then not going ahead because it would mean you have to change planes in the US. Did I mention that? Even when you are on transit through the US you will still have to pay the fee.

Once they start losing money because of this stupidity the fees will be gone sooner rather than later.


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