August 2012 – There’s only a week or so to go before millions of UK travellers who applied for a free two-year permit to travel to the US have to renew it…at a cost!
I found this out to my cost back in May when I travelled to the States, thinking that my ESTA visa (the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) was still current. I got to Heathrow and was told that it wasn’t and I couldn’t get on the plane unless I got a new one.
I had a nightmare time, trying to get onto the web, looking around for the form and I was dumb enough (or rushed enough) to go on a private one that charged me about £40 for it. Even when I had finally got it I wasn’t allowed on the plane as I was then too late. I had to hang around for five hours to get onto the next plane out. Nightmare.
So, don’t do what I did!
- Firstly, if you’re planning on going to the States in the next 12 months, check that you have a valid ESTA.
- If you don’t, get one before you leave for the airport. In fact, do it when you book the ticket.
- Make sure you go on the right site. It should cost you $14 (£9), which includes a $4 administration fee and a $10 acceptance charge. Rejection still costs the $4 administration fee. Applications can only be made online and paid with a credit card. Go to the Homeland site here for the proper form.
So if you, or anyone you know, is travelling to the States, or thinking of doing it, don’t forget the ESTA!