$14 visa charge to visit USA
August 10th, 2010 by elisa

European travellers will have to pay an extra $14 from September for electronic visas to visit the US.

Known as Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (Esta), the visas have been compulsory for UK tourists and other European visitors since January 2009 but have been free so far.From 8th September the US will start charging $14, or around £9 based on the current exchange rates.

The European Union has criticised the move, claiming that it could deter or complicate travel and consumer groups are advising people planning a trip to the US to apply now to beat the charges as the Esta lasts for two years, or until a person’s passport expires.

“Anyone even mulling over going to the USA should urgently go and fill in their Esta right away.

“It is rather strange this fee is mainly going to promote US tourism. You would’ve thought keeping it cheaper to get in would help more – after all, it’s free for most Americans to come here.” said Martin Lewis, creator.

Visit USA said although it did not support any taxes on tourism, it was relieved at the price set.

“We had expected it to be around $17-20, so we were pleasantly surprised that it is $14, which comes in at around less than £10 a head with the exchange rate,” said a spokesman.

The price is set at $14, so consumers should be wary of bogus websites charging higher rates.

What do readers of this blog think about this tax? Is it something we should adopt too or will it complicate or deter people from travel as the EU points out? Comment below.

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