The Cost of Traveling to the US for Your Holiday or Timeshare Vacation Increases, but Only Slightly

Effective this week (September 8), the US Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection has added a $14 fee to all registration applications or renewals submitted via Electronic Systems for Travel Authorizations (ESTA).

Q. Who does this change effect?

A. Visitors, vacationers, and business travelers who are a national of one of 36 countries (list follows below).

As of January 20, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security began transitioning to “enforced compliance of the ESTA requirements for VWP travelers”. Still too many acronyms to know if this applies to you? That’s understandable. Let us explain more…

A VWP traveler is a Visa Waiver Program visitor to the US traveling under the new guidelines that enable nationals from 36 participating countries to visit the US for any tourism or business purpose that qualifies as visitor [B] visa purposes. ESTA is the automated system by which eligibility is determined for these prospective US visitors who are traveling here under the Visa Waiver Program.

VWP travelers may stay in the US for up to 90 days without obtaining an actual visa—it’s convenient for everyone, stimulates travel and tourism to America, and as the US government says, permits, “the Department of State to focus consular resources in other areas.” Currently, the 36 VWP countries are: Andorra, Hungary, New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Norway, Austria, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, San Marino, Brunei, Japan, Singapore, Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, South Korea, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Malta, Sweden, Germany, Monaco, Switzerland, Greece, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

With a 90-day window, visiting timeshare owners can easily enjoy their timeshare interval and even make use of a fractional, if they are a fractional owner. The VWP makes it easy for timeshare owners and renters, and those taking advantage of timeshare exchange, to enjoy US timeshare, coming and going easily without the need to apply for a visa. For repeat travelers or vacationers, existing ESTA registrations (typically valid for up to two years) remain valid through their expiration date. When you renew, or if you are applying for the first time, you will be charged the new fee.

It is good to know that governmental agencies consider promotion of tourism and ease of travel to the greatest degree possible when they implement policy regarding security.

Learn more at the ESTA webpage on the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection website or watch this easy to understand video: