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USA Imposes Visa Fee!

From 9th September, travellers to the USA will be required to pay $14 (£9) to use the compulsory Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

An ESTA application, mandatory from January 2010, can take up to 72 hours to be approved. It is currently free, lasts for two years and is an alternative to applying for a full visa, which is more complex.

The UK is part of the USA's Visa Waiver Program which requires travellers to complete an ESTA application. The security authorisation lasts for two years, so do it now - leave it for a month and you'll have to pay for it.

The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, criticised the fee, saying it would "complicate travel". "It is strange that this fee is to be used to promote US tourism. You would've thought keeping it cheaper to get in would help more - after all, it's free for most Americans to come here" she said.

Medical care can be very expensive in the USA, so it's important to take out travel insurance to cover you and your family while you are away. As a Flexicover Directpolicyholder, you will receive protection 24 hours a day, every day of the year - so don't leave home without us!

If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!