What is an Esta?
It stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. It is requirement for entry into the United States for citizens from certain countries who can apply for an ESTA instead of a Visa.
How To Apply
Apply through the official US government website – https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
There is a fee of $14 to apply for an ESTA
What’s the Scam?
There are several websites that will charge you an added fee for this service. (This is similar to the UK EHIC scam where many websites charge a fee for what should be a free service.)
At the time of writing this ( Sept 2018) I did a quick Google service and came up with the following list of sites (all on page 1 of the search results) charging a premium for selling you the exact same service as you will get via the official US governement website:
https://www.estaapplication.us/en/ charges $50
https://apply-esta.us.com/ charges $79
https://www.estavisa-org.com charges $99
https://www.estavisas-us.org/esta/en/ charges $79
(interestingly, all the above websites are using paid Google advertising to ensure they appear above the official government website in search results)
https://www.esta-registration.co.uk/ charges £32.40
https://www.evisaonline.com/en/usa/esta.html charges $88
In fairness all these sites include links to the government website and all claim they offer a checking service.
The UK Post Office website offers some helpful information on how and where to apply for an ESTA and also explains who needs one, how long it lasts and what will happen if your application is initially rejected.