On September 8, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began collecting a fee of $14 in connection with issuing an ESTA travel authorization (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), which nonimmigrants are required to have in order to enter the United States by air or by sea under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). ESTA authorizations are valid for two years.
The ESTA fee was mandated by two statutes:
- Public Law 110-53 (August 3, 2007), which requires DHS to collect an operational fee to recover the full costs of providing and administering the system. DHS has determined this cost to be $4 per ESTA authorization.
- Public Law 111-145 (March 4, 2010), which requires DHS to collect a fixed $10 fee to be credited to a “Travel Promotion Fund” used to promote international travel to the United States.
Collection of the travel promotion portion of the fee is authorized only through September 30, 2015, but the operational fee does not sunset, and DHS will reassess that fee on a regular basis.
An ESTA applicant will incur the $4 fee when he or she submits an ESTA application, but will have to pay the $10 fee only if the ESTA travel authorization is approved. VWP travelers with current ESTA authorizations will not have to pay the fee unless they need to apply for a new ESTA travel authorization.