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New fee for travellers to the USA

TT/The Local · 9 Aug 2010, 11:23

Published: 09 Aug 2010 08:06 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 Aug 2010 11:23 GMT+02:00

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The fee will be levied on citizens from countries within the so-called visa waiver system, which includes Sweden, and the Swedish EU commissioner Cecilia Malmström has expressed concern that the charge could be a hindrance to trans-Atlantic travel.

"I have on several occasions expressed my concern over the introduction of this fee. The rules contravene the USA's promise to ease movement across the Atlantic and will be an extra burden for EU travellers heading to the USA," Malmström said in an official statement.

US authorities took the decision to introduce the levy on the electronic form which must by submitted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for all those seeking to travel to the country under the programme.

Story continues below…

The EU Commission has expressed dismay at the charge after having previously stated that the "Electronic System for Travel Authorization" should not be considered a visa programme and thus should remain free of charge.

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Your comments about this article

08:48 August 9, 2010 by cogito
Dumb move. A tax on Europeans who would be helping the economy by spending on hotels, restaurants, and shopping.

I was planning to go in October. This changed my mind. I'll spend my tourist budget in France or Italy instead of the U.S.A.
09:07 August 9, 2010 by Craptastical
FWIW, they raised fees for everything across the board, including passport renewals. It seems to me that the State Dept. may have had their budget lowered or DHS is requiring funding come from somewhere for the screening. Either way it's pretty dumb to do this for those in areas which are part of the visa waiver program. Either they don't understand that countries will develop reciprocative policies for travelers from the US as well or they just don't care.

@cogito Even though it's incredibly annoying, if 100 SEK was enough to tip the scales and make you rethink your travels to the US... You probably shouldn't have made plans to go there in the first place.
09:24 August 9, 2010 by concha de tu puta madre
Cogito. sorry to hear the 100 SEK will break your travel budget. maybe we should all pinch in and help you overcome the financial hardship ;-).. Whats your bank account?
09:25 August 9, 2010 by Grahamsmjöl
I think it is more about the principal of it than if it is the tipping point. I can afford to buy a drink with my lunch but I avoid restaurants which only give you water yet still charge 70kr+ for lunch.
09:37 August 9, 2010 by Marko2010S
@ Comment#3

Your coomment is freakin' hilarious :D
09:39 August 9, 2010 by cogito
@ Craptastical and Concha...

It's the principle, as only Grahammsmjöl seems to understand.

First they obliged us fill in the form with dumb, humiliating questions. Then they make us pay to fill in the dumb form.

Also, 100 sek may be a trivial amount. But this is only the thin edge of the wedge. Now that 100 sek is accepted, watch for them to raise it...I see 500 sek down the road before to long.

But for now, for me, it's the principle. I'll contribute to, say, Italy's economy instead.
09:46 August 9, 2010 by Amber Dawn
We just bought our tickets for the states yesterday. My sambo will have to pay the 100kr, but I won't. Our tickets (Gothenburg/London/Toronto/Nashville...sheesh!) were around $400US base each, but with taxes and fees, they were just under $800 each, checking one bag each only. It's an additional $50 per direction if we want another bag, and since part of the flight is with SAS and part is with Air Canada, we would have to pay that fee twice. Hearing about the additional 100kr just annoyed the hell out of me. It's just one more thing.
10:08 August 9, 2010 by Eagle63
Yet another reason to go on vacation to Canada instead....
10:12 August 9, 2010 by krow
There is no cause for alarm. EU should introduce same to US citizens visiting EU countries. Infact they should make it such a way that each country be entitled to collect the fees seperately.
10:16 August 9, 2010 by Streja
The questions are so silly.

Are you coming here to do crimes or are you a drug user......errrrr

10:36 August 9, 2010 by Monark540
The new interim final rule - I know that sounds odd - was announced today by DHS/CBP and it states the following:

Under the new interim final rule, travelers with an approved ESTA will not need to pay the ESTA fee ($14) when updating an ESTA application. However, travelers with new passports and re-applying for an ESTA will need to pay the ESTA fees.

Translation: Apply now or anytime before September 8 and you are good for the next two years. Anyone applying after September 8, or re-registering must pay the new fee.

So, apply today, even if you travel plans are indefinite, and postpone the fee for two years or so!
11:03 August 9, 2010 by wabasha
no big deal! 14 bucks is nothing. it costs way more to take the bridge into Denmark, or the ferry for that matter.
11:47 August 9, 2010 by locaxy

Of course 14 bucks is nothing. But there's a principle involved.

The ferry and the bridge provides you with a service. What on earth is the $14 for? Fancier privacy-invading controls as as result of being terrorized?
12:02 August 9, 2010 by cogito
It's to pay for the thugs who molest you at the airports in the name of security. Or maybe for those new full-body scanners, which they will have to remove eventually because they are a health hazard.

But above all, it's the principle: scrounging revenue out of tourists who would be boosting the economy by staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and shopping at the Gap is dumb diplomacy.
12:14 August 9, 2010 by villjobba
What is the EU whinning about? Just hit back by imposing equivalent or even higher counter measures. Its not as if tourist traffic is unidirectional here. I am sure there is even more gringos coming into Europe now than the other way round.
13:05 August 9, 2010 by Monark540
Here's where the money goes:

A fee of $4 will recover the costs incurred by CBP of providing and administering the ESTA system and is in addition to the mandatory $10 travel promotion fee established by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009.
13:19 August 9, 2010 by Already in use
The reply to this is obvious: charge the same fee to US Americans. Who do they think they are?
13:27 August 9, 2010 by Twiceshy

O' Get over this. 75% of the time fly over to Sweden on free frequent flyer point tickets. The TAX on them is in USA is ZERO - NADA - ingenting!

But the EURO and SWEDISH taxes and fee's can on a FREE TICKET are $150-350 i must pay!

So don't go crying over $14 when Sweden has 25% sales tax and you can come over and buy stuff here at 5-7% tax. You will save the fee on the first golf shirt you buy!

13:27 August 9, 2010 by americanska
@ Already in use. we think we are american citizens - we don't need an ESTA form.

@ everyone else complaining about this - ths is nothing comaprned to the tax european nations impose on the airline insdustry that trickel down to the consumer.

Just because the US tends to make their fees and taxes visible doens't mean they don't exist in the eurozone. The european goverments just like to keep the taxes burried in the prices.
13:34 August 9, 2010 by Marko2010S
The new fees that the US is proposing aims to collect money to support their military which they use to kill kids and innocent civilians in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

So the bottom line is, we (Europeans or Any goon) wants to enter the US is somehow supporting the American-Killing-Machine.
13:40 August 9, 2010 by americanska
Marko......please say out of my country.
13:46 August 9, 2010 by Norrlands Turk

Come on man.. This is just another ridiculous fee. You can't compare this fee with the taxes in Scandinavian countries because you don't receive any services in exchange of paying this fee. Its just not right. Impose new fees on plane tickets but don't charge everyone $14 for, well, nothing really.

Considering the fee based lifestyle in the US, its not surprising that majority of Americans will see nothing wrong with this new fee.

Another example of fee based industry is the process you go through in order to obtain Green Card. I know no one says that Green Card is free or anything and its not that I am complaining but every single person who obtains a Green Card pays the State Department at least $600, plus another $500 for health check up.

Compare it with the cost of getting Swedish residency.
13:52 August 9, 2010 by americanska
right - and compare the cost of living in sweden and the us........

I don't agree wit you that if you are a tourist you get anything for all the taxes that you pay in sweden. The taxes i pay benifit only those that live in sweden. As does this fee which helps payf or the security of the country.
14:47 August 9, 2010 by FFF
In their ambassy in Paris, they answer you on the phone just after they charge you 15 dollards on your credit card even if they can't answer to your request !!!!!!

And eah time you call them even for an appointment.
15:41 August 9, 2010 by LeoKinmann
there is no need to whine or complain. just charge every US citizen twice the amount of what they charge us, everytime they raise the fee.
16:09 August 9, 2010 by Nemesis
Why is a fee not imposed for Americans travelling to Europe?

What is good for them to impose is OK for us to impose if we see fit to.
17:05 August 9, 2010 by Renfeh Hguh
This I've travelled to a few third world nations that like to boost their budget coffers by charging for visa's on arrival and the ESTA fee is no different.

Help them out, they are poor and need our money ;)
17:28 August 9, 2010 by ironman294
Blame Obama and the democrats.

All that they do is tax and spend and keep everyone away.

Bt regardless Swedes and other Europeans often like taxes and don't mind paying taxes, which most go to pay for welfare for unappreciative people feeling their awful 3rd world countries
17:58 August 9, 2010 by dwb5555
As a procedural matter, the fee and effective date are being published in the Federal register as an "interim final rule" subject to public comments, which can be filed through October 8, 2010. Comments can be filed online at www.regulations.gov, referencing docket number USCBP-2010-0025.

18:26 August 9, 2010 by Mike #1986

Well said mate bloody tight as Swedes and Europeans whinging about everything but the cost of there own country NOW that's a ripp off.
19:11 August 9, 2010 by wenddiver
This is a fee for sorting through the passports to find the terrorists and terrorist supporters that your country gave passports to. The World trade Center bombers came from Hamburg, Germany an EU country. Don't say they aren't there, look at comment #21, that guy regularly advocates for terrorists.

Sorry, but the check was the legislative compromise, the original bill would have ended Europeans

I personally would favor taking Frances's Visa exemption and giving it to Poland.
19:15 August 9, 2010 by americanska
maybe if other countries would step up and try to stop terrorism rather than letting guys with bombs on the the planes...like on christmas day, we wouldn't need as much secuirty on our end. but that would cost you guy money too. As long as the terrorists gets funded it will always cost money to stay safe.
22:05 August 9, 2010 by tgolan
Australia is soon going to give tourists payment for coming there , F--k the usa, Aussie is better in any case
23:28 August 9, 2010 by glamelixir
@krow reciprocity law, I agree with you.

Argentina, a country that needs VISA to enter the States have just decided to put a Visa to americans coming to the country. I think it's an excelent idea.
23:30 August 9, 2010 by calebian22
Complaining about 14 dollars as a principle that is funny. Never mind that everything that you buy in the US, will be a minimum of 25% cheaper since the skanky MOMS live in Sweden and not the US. What did a value added tax ever add to anything but the government coffers? Principles are fine, but don't be stupid.
01:57 August 10, 2010 by kenny8076
#9 they already do. When Americans go to Europe and Sweden they are subject to your outrageous taxes. Everything we pay for in your country goes to keeping you all healthy and your kids in school, not to mention all the other things your governments babysit you all with. $14? really? we would pay that in your taxes with our first sit down dinner in the host country.

and #35 lol who cares? thats like N. Korea making us need a VISA to go there!! NO ONE DOES!!! no ones going to Argentina, except the ones that illegally went to the states and ended up getting their citizenship........ and i dont even think THEY are going back there!!
02:19 August 10, 2010 by xenyasai
EU should tax tourists from USA and make it more difficult to obtain any kind of visa to enter. They can just use the same excuse as US, it is all for the greater good to keep our citizens safe from terrorists.
05:11 August 10, 2010 by donnick
I have an idea for those who want to skip US travel over 14 bucks. You stay there and spend your money and we'll stay here and spend our money and everyone can be happy. And for the idiot who brought Obama into the argument... idiot.
06:03 August 10, 2010 by waffen
Never believe anything that the United States promises.

Who would want to travel to a country that is dying?

Colorado Springs is turning out their street-lights, and several other cities are considering doing the same, including Philadelphia.

Some towns that are hard-strapped for cash are tearing up their paved roads and returning to gravel roads.

Detroit is taking a large section of that city and tearing down hundreds of foreclosed homes and returning the land to pastureland within the city.

I saw a figure recently that there are close to thiry millions of people that are either underemployed, unemployed, or part-time employed and that thousands more are becoming that way every day.

Travel to Canada and avoid the nonsense in the United States.

Before long, there will be anarchy in the streets of the United States.
08:34 August 10, 2010 by wenddiver
@waffen- There has been Anarchy in the streets, since 1776, so what? By the way Detroit and Philadelfia operate on the Big Government Nanny state model of your country, so you know what you have to look forward to.
08:42 August 10, 2010 by cogito
The Obama tourist tax will result in diminished tourist revenue and ill will.

But poor Obama needs the money. He has to pay the bills for the 60 rooms his wife reserved for her vacation at a luxury report in Marbella last week.
09:25 August 10, 2010 by americanska
waffen - what do you think is happening in europe? or do you only pay attention anything bad in the US to try and make yourself feel better when you see your skint european bank account?

lots of towns in the UK have been turning out their streetlights for years. and i'm pretty sure the eurozone has already seen an entire country turn to the streets and go on strike.
10:33 August 10, 2010 by Svamerikansk
@ Americanska: there are a lot of europeans angry with us... they can blame us for their recession too. Everybody blames us for everything that goes wrong. It's because people rely so much on our economy.

@Waffen- you better pray that the US doesn't go down the tube, because the euro zone and china will go with it.
13:07 August 10, 2010 by kenny8076
lol ya waffen is a complete idiot.......... what a great world this is that people now a days can just hide behind a key board and type utter non sense. It is human behavior, hate what you dont have! and thats what Europeans do. they love to hate America but spend every dime they have travelling there lol, watch ALL our movies, play American tv shows on their tvs %80 of the time, eat at all our fastfood chains we allowed to come over seas........ its a joke. Please dont come on here saying you hope we fail when you depend so much on us!!

lol go to canada.......GREAT!!! haha it doesnt matter because the canadians go to America to buy stuff!! my brother just moved there and cant believe how expensive it is, and their adding 2 more taxes soon!!! GGOOOOOO!!!!
18:58 August 10, 2010 by old git
They would have less processing costs if they didn't put such stupid questions on their application forms.
14:20 August 11, 2010 by AirForceGuy
The $14 fee is to help track all you people who go to the USA and 'forget' to leave... they have an illegal immigration problem there if you haven't heard. (Translate: many/all of the 9/11 terrorists had overstayed their visas...)
15:55 August 11, 2010 by LeoKinmann

Yeah and these people definitely came all from Europe! I wonder, what percentage of all the illegal immigrants are European citizens? If you really wanna battle illegal immigration, why don't you start by building the Great Wall of USA along the Mexicali border? Saying the fee is used to track down illegal immigrants from Europe is ridiculous. There's not much incentive of staying in US illegally while you can be a law-abiding and respected citizen in Europe.
17:09 August 11, 2010 by cogito
It would seem Washington hasn't noticed yet that those who come and "forget" to leave are streaming over the southern border from Mexico. They are not required to fill out a dumb application with dumb questions and they are not required to pay a fee for answering the dumb questions.

This tax on tourists from Europe adds injury to the insult of the questions.
17:23 August 11, 2010 by americanska
By that logic I will not travel to Sweden anymore because it's against my "principals" to pay 25% VAT that I don't get anything back from.

Give me a break. The terrorists did not come from Mexico!

@LeoKinmann - The incentive would be the opportunity you have in the US. However, people that are training to blow themselves up in time square don't really need an incentive.
18:29 August 11, 2010 by LeoKinmann
I had to tell AirForceGuy that Europeans in general don't "forget" to leave the country. Also as an illegal immigrant you don't get much out of the opportunities in US. If a huge number of illegal immigrants cross the border of Mexico, then you shouldn't make European tourists pay their ransom. BTW, those who blow up themselves are not from Europe. The suspect of 2010 Times Square bombing attempt was a Pakistani Taliban who became US citizen per naturalization in 2009.
19:45 August 11, 2010 by umeasauri
Good for you (cogito) if you cant pay $15.00 then you have no business coming to the USA, we dont accept backpackers in america, here you need money, just like we do when we have to fork out your ridiculous 25+ VAT on everything, go to France and eat cheese and bread and leave the STEAK for the people with money!

20:28 August 11, 2010 by kenny8076
UMEASAURI........... you can't talk to europeans about their taxes, they will not except the comparison. they cannot comprehend just how ridiculous it is. Yes we pay taxes in America that go to absurd stuff but thankfully its a small part for us.

Paying 25% sales tax and 30-50% income tax for stuff such as fake Kings and Queens or their million dollar weddings....... not to mention their mediocre education system or below standard hospitals(that they still say is ''free'' because they can't understand their taxes pay for it) is a little outrageous but are all the things Americans pay for when we come here and fine dine(well we will just say eat, not much fine dining), use public transportation, hotels, shopping ect.. ect..
17:21 August 13, 2010 by tadchem
The US government is simply following the lead of the major airlines, communications companies, and other industries in proliferating annoying little fees in an effort to boost revenues without regard to the cost in customer relations. If *anybody* discovers that people will pay even more just to avoid the hassle of these little fees, they'll get a lot of business.
09:59 August 14, 2010 by Elvis Has Left The Building
I think this is a great idea, and why not? The US isn't the only country to enforce such fees. I had to pay $20 to come into Turkey, a crisp clean $20 bill paid at the airport. No cards accepted, only cold cash in the form of US currency or the Euro. Good thing I researched it beforehand and had the money in hand. I saw other tourists stressing out since they hadn't the proper currency. 100 SEK is a completely acceptable amount to pay to experience and appreciate the freedom of America.
21:55 August 25, 2010 by mojofat
I've paid fees to enter Peru, Ecuador, and several other countries for the privilege of entering them. Having traveled extensively throughout Mexico, I can tell you the "gringo tax" is a thriving industry as well.

I paid ~$150 for my swedish visa...which conveniently expires next February so I can pay it again to renew, even though I've been accepted into a two year program.

As for the US being a fee based society, I'm not sure that is correct. Many of the things we're used to getting for free there, I've noticed must be paid for here. Examples?

- Using the bathroom at Nordstan (my jaw dropped that it cost anything to use a public bathroom...and it wasn't even clean).

- Every grocery store charges for bags.

- Paying for refills.

- Mandatory "TV" fee.

- And don't even get started on the bank fees...I'm surprised swedes haven't revolted en masse at those ridiculous charges for internet banking, depositing money, etc. It's truly blatant theft.

Not complaining, just providing examples of a different perspective of a "fee based" society. Maybe the $20 is ridiculous, but just buy some booze to bring back and you'll more than make up for it.
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