On August 6, 2010, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") announced an interim final rule that will increase the fees that foreign travelers must pay to use the Visa Waiver Program ("VWP") on or after September 8, 2010. This rule amends Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") regulations that established the "Operational and Travel Promotion Fees" that must be paid to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization ("ESTA") starting on September 8, 2010.
One of the prerequisites for use of the VWP is an ESTA certification. This new rule increases the fees associated with the ESTA process. The total fee for a new or renewed ESTA certification for those approved to travel using the VWP will be raised to $14. This consists of a $4 processing fee for all travelers seeking ESTA certification, and then an additional $10 only if the ESTA application is approved. These fees will be charged to the traveler's credit or debit cards. Presently, the ESTA system accepts only the following credit/debit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover. Please note that no ESTA application will be accepted for processing until full payment information is received.
The DHS published a notice of the interim final rule in the Federal Register on August 6, 2010, and will accept comments through October 8, 2010. For more information about ESTA, please visit http://www.CBP.gov.