As you’ve read here on Gadling, tourists planning to visit the U.S. will soon have to start paying a $14 fee. $10 of that fee goes into a fund to help promote tourism to the U.S. – and yes, we totally understand how insane it is to ask tourists coming here to pay to promote coming here.
That said, there is a way to avoid this fee for the next 24 months – simply apply for an ESTA visa before September 8, and leave the “travel information” fields empty. These fields are not required and your form will be processed just fine without them.
This will get you approval (assuming you are not a terrorist) and a 24 month ESTA authorization, without having to pay any fees. The only requirement is that your passport needs to be valid for the entire 24 month period. Once it expires, you’ll need to re-apply (and pay the fee.)
If you wait till after September 8, you’ll be charged the $14 fee. So, even if you are not sure you are coming to the United States, apply anyway, and in the worst case, you’ll have lost ten minutes of your time. Then, when you get here, use the $14 you saved to buy something nice.
[Photo from: Getty Images]