Travelers heading to the United States now have to pay an increased ESTA fee, with the new costs coming into effect today.

US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) has increased the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) fee from $14 to $21 (£16.55 / €19.60). It will begin collecting the new fee today on all new applications.

"Individuals with an approved ESTA do not have to re-apply at this time, as an ESTA is valid for up to two years,” it said.

The ESTA is an online system that approves travel for visitors to the US under the Visa Waiver Program (WVP).

Up to 40 countries are part of the WVP including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Taiwan, and European Union nations.

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Immigration and passport control
Travelers under the Visa Waiver Program must have an approved ESTA before departing for the US ©FTiare/Getty Images

To qualify for an ESTA, passengers must be traveling to the US for tourism, transit, short study, or business. The ESTA allows travelers to stay without a visa for up to 90 days per visit.

All eligible travelers are required to apply online for ESTA. It's required prior to boarding any flights, busses, or ships to the US, and should be applied for at least 72 hours before departure.

The $7 increase is the first time the fee has been raised since 2015, but the cost will rise again before 2027 in an effort to support the Travel Promotional Fund, the CBP said.

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"As the $7 fee increase is relatively small compared to costs involved to travel to the United States, CBP anticipates that the fee increase will not adversely affect travel to the United States," it added.

Passengers arriving into the US are also required to present a negative COVID-19 test when arriving by air from any international destination. The test must be administered one day before departure and applies to all passengers over the age of two.

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