Attention: Check you’re using the official ESTA application site!
Filling out internet forms can be one of the more tedious tasks out there. Many a time I’ve bailed because the whole process became too much.
We have just finished filling out our ESTA forms for our upcoming US trip and I thought it necessary to quickly share with you our experience, to not only save you time but a great deal of your hard-earned cash as well.
For those who are unaware, an ESTA (The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States from countries under the Visa Waiver Program. They are not a Visa and Border Security has the final say on whether you can gain entry. It allows you a maximum of 90 days in the USA and it lasts for 2 years should you wish to travel again at a future date. The current cost of an application is $14 USD
Don’t Trust Google..
That pains me to say. I’m normally one of google’s biggest advocates, but in this case please proceed with caution. A simple search of “ESTA” or “ESTA Australia to USA“, highly ranks numerous official looking third party sites on the search page, each with a very convincing domain name. While I can’t comment whether or not these sites in fact will secure you the authorisation needed, I can say it’s not until you’re just about to finalise your application that you are made aware of their fee. The two we completed initially were trying to charge us $88 USD and $72 USD respectively. That’s quite a bit more than the actual fee of $14. Someone out there is scoring quite the extensive commission.
Official ESTA Application
The official link to the Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security that you should be using is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/application.html?execution=e3s1
Thankfully I was aware of the rough actual cost and knew to question it. In the end the only thing we lost of value was time filling out extra forms. At $88 USD each the potential dollar loss for a family is enormous. A family of 4 could potentially find themselves and extra $296 USD out of pocket! Here’s hoping you read this blog in time. I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to better spend that travel money!