With many students planning their J1 trips to America and holidaymakers travelling Stateside, MEP Deirdre Clune has warned them to be aware of fake overcharging websites.
Any Irish people travelling to America must register for an Esta (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) form before they embark on their trip. However despite the Esta costing $14 on the official Esta website, a flurry of other websites have been set-up which are charging up to $150 for the form.
People travelling to America under the Visa Waiver Program must register for an Esta form to enter the country. This is a programme run by the Department of Homeland Security’s Custom and Border Protection Service. People have to be very careful when booking their Esta form as many sites are charging ten times the price being charged on the official website. Many sites are charging very high ‘processing fees’ at the last minute and people might think this is standard but it is not. This has been going on for quite some time but I feel it is very important to highlight this to people - many of whom could be travelling to America for the first time and may not be aware of this.”
The US Embassy in Dublin recommends that people use the official ESTA registration website which is: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
According to the US Embassy in Dublin a number of third-party websites will complete the Esta on your behalf and may charge fees that are significantly higher. They have urged travellers to check carefully before submitting any information or payment to a third-party website. I would urge people to be cautious when booking their Esta as this could easily result in paying a lot more than you need to for the form.