If the US is on your holiday radar this summer, you might want to take note of a new fee that you could have to pay to get there.
Travellers entering the US from the 40 countries on the nation's visa waiver programme will now pay $17, plus a $4 administrative fee to apply to enter the country. That is an increase from the $10 fee previously imposed.
The new fee will be live from Thursday and will remain at this higher rate until at least 2027. Travellers pay the fee online when applying via the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or Esta.
US authorities have said the additional charges will be used to maintain the Esta service, which is used by the US government to assess if inbound travellers are eligible for visa-free entry.
Once an Esta is approved, authorisations are valid for two years for stays of up to 90 days, and applicable to those travelling for business or pleasure.
Travellers need to apply for the service no less than 72 hours before the flight, but can do so up to two years in advance, meaning that if you apply now for future travel, you could save a few dollars before the hiked fee comes in.
For UAE travellers flying to the US, there is the option to clear customs and immigration before leaving the Emirates. Abu Dhabi Airport has the Middle East’s only US Customs and Border Protection facility in the Middle East, and one of the few outside North America.
The service allows travellers flying with Etihad Airways to process all immigration, customs and agriculture inspections before departure, and makes it smoother on the other side with no additional checks on arrival, and baggage able to be checked through to their final destination in the US.
To use the service, travellers either need to have a valid visa or apply for their Esta — and pay the increased fee from Thursday — online before travelling to the airport.