Visa Waiver Program participants now must pay $14 when registering on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) starting on September 8, 2010.

The Travel Promotion Act of 2009 requires that the Department of Homeland Security collect from ESTA registrants a $10 "travel promotion fee" for use in promoting travel to the U.S., along with a fee to compensate DHS for the cost of operating ESTA, which DHS has set at $4. The total is $14 (paid in U.S. dollars), paid by credit card or debit card (which will probably tack on a transaction fee for conversion from accounts in other currencies). The $4 fee is paid immediately at the time of entering an ESTA registration. The $10 fee is only charged to the card if the ESTA authorization is granted.

Certain limited "updates" to an ESTA registration can be made without new fees, but most changes to ESTA registration involve a new registration, which will require new fees.

ESTA is an electronic system for pre-registration for travelers from certain designated countries planning to use the Visa Waiver Program to enter the U.S. as a tourist or as a business visitor. For our discussion of the Visa Waiver Program, click here. For our explanation about the ESTA program, click here.