03/09/2010...5:52 pm

Four days left to apply for a free US visa waiver

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From September 8, British travellers to the USA will be hit with yet another tax, as the ESTA application, which anybody who doesn’t already have a visa needs to make, will no longer be free. Every applicant will have to pay $14, or around £10.

Although £10 for something that lasts two years and is valid for multiple visits is not much in itself, some find it galling that Brits have to pay for a US visa waiver – but there is no reciprocal arrangement. And there’s a certain irony in the fact that some of the money raised by ESTA is going towards promoting the USA abroad.

But what’s probably of even more concern to British holidaymakers is that Air Passenger Duty (APD) goes up again in November, with long haul hit the hardest. So APD on a flight to, say, Miami will be £60, up from £45. A family of four cruising from Miami this November, then, could be facing a price hike of £100 (£40 for the ESTAs and £60 for increased APD), with no obvious return on that £100.

We don’t yet know what the new coalition government is going to do with APD but put it this way: it’s unlikely to be reduced.

Meanwhile, even if you’re only vaguely contemplating a cruise from a US port over the next couple of years, it won’t hurt to get that ESTA application done this weekend!

Or do extra fees like this put you off travelling long haul or visiting the USA, even? Let us know!



  • Peter Horton

    Doesn’t put me off, but not happy about it. I don’t think this is being used to promote the USA, and we in the UK should be thinking of a reciprical arrangement.

  • Steve Wagner

    As an American, I think it is a rather poor strategy for promoting tourism to hit up foreign tourists with yet another bureaucratic fee. But let’s keep things in perspective. This is a $14 fee for a two year visa waiver. We Americans, if we fly to or through London are socked with a $250+ aviation fee/tax for the dubious privilege of going through Heathrow airport – time after time after time. Where does that come from? This compares to far far lower fees/taxes for Barcelona, Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, etc. etc. etc. Talking about pushing tourists away from your country

    • cruisecriticuk

      I don’t think it’s a Heathrow Airport tax as such! We Brits are hit big time with Air Passenger Duty and other aviation taxes and you’re right, the taxes elsewhere in Europe are lower. Sue

  • They set it up wrong. It should be like some of the carib islands, where there is a $10-20 port fee. That way it could be applied to every cruise. Not just once every 2 years. Think of it 5 ports a cruise = an extra $50 a cruise at $10 per port per person. (Fees not applicable to citizens of course)

    What about (is it) Japan or Hong Kong where you have to pay like $30 to leave the country, each time? They let you in for free, but you have to pay to leave.

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