In a move that has stunned the European Union and other friendly nations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced plans to enact a tourist tax today. This tourist tax will require travelers from 36 nations to pay a $14 “operational and travel promotion” fee to enter the United States. The tax will apply if the traveler does not already possess a U.S. visa, reports Yahoo! News.
Tourist tax ‘inconsistent with facilitating transatlantic mobility,’ says EU
The European Union has been very open in its opposition to the United States’ newly instituted tourist tax masquerading as an operational and travel promotion fee. Air and sea travelers from nations ranging from Australia and Germany to France, Japan and the United Kingdom (among many other nations large and small) will be subject to the fee. According to Homeland Security, the tourist tax will cover the previously free Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) process, which checks foreign tourists against no fly lists and terrorist databases. The New York Times reports that tourists are now required to have Internet access and a credit or debit card so they can go through the ESTA program and pay the tourist tax. If the tourists are denied by ESTA, they must apply for a more expensive, non-immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. ESTA is not required to tell applicants why they were denied.
Your tourist dollars at work
Homeland Security explains that the mandatory travel promotion fee is actually only $10, but the extra $4 is assessed to help recoup administrative costs. So long as a tourist submits ESTA application information prior to traveling, the process generally runs smoothly. Upon approval, ESTA authorization is generally good for multiple entries into the U.S. within a two-year period, unless the traveler’s passport expires or Homeland Security determines that it is necessary for the tourist to reapply. Additional information regarding the tourist tax (aka the “operational and travel promotion fee”) can be found at CBP.gov, the website for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.