From Sept. 8, people from all of the Nordic countries traveling to the United States will have to pay a little more than $14 each (SEK 100) for the privilege. They also need to fill out an electronic form that delves deeply into all sorts of personal information. Once filled out, the form is valid for a two-year period so returning travelers will not have to fill out a new form for every visit.

But it's not a visa, contend the American authorities. Those are supposed to be suspended for people from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden as well as citizens of a number of European Union countries (but not all). Nationals such as Nordics are in an American scheme called the "Visa Waiver Program," and the preferred citizens from these countries can travel to the United States as tourists or on business trips. Merely the electronic questionnaire is mandatory, although this must be sent to and approved by the US Department of Homeland Security for each time every applicant wants to enter the United States.


However, the charging of fees upsets the EU Commission, which has held the position that the electronic system for travel authorization was not subject to fees because it was not, in fact, an actual visa application procedure.

"I regret very much that the fee was established," stated Cecilia Malmström, European Chief for Home Affairs, after Washington increased a so-called "travel promotion fee" by another four dollars from $10 to $14 per application. US government officials said that this was being done to ensure the recovery of the full costs of providing and administering operation, related Malmström's office.

"The rules are contrary to the US promise to facilitate movement across the Atlantic and will become an additional burden for EU citizens traveling to the US," warned Malmström in an official statement. She added that this amounted to "back door visa trading", and that her office would "carry out a definitive assessment" of the modified US fees and procedures.

sources:,, (ESTA - the Electronic System for Travel Authorization)