US-bound travellers subject to e-passport requirement

FROM July 1, people travelling to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), with passports issued after October 2006, will be subject to an electronic passport requirement.

Any citizen or national of a VWP member country, such as Ireland, intending to apply for admission under the VWP with an emergency or temporary passport that was issued on or after October 26, 2006, and which is not an e-passport, will be required to apply for a US visa prior to travel or to apply for a waiver when they reach the US.

According to the US Embassy, for any traveller who arrives with a non-compliant emergency or temporary passport and is otherwise admissible, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers may exercise their discretion to grant a no-fee waiver.

VWP nationals who present non-electronic official or diplomatic passports also can benefit from CBP’s discretionary authority to offer no-fee waivers.

The e-passports being issued by VWP countries carry the international e-passport symbol on the cover, contain a contactless chip with personal information and have critical security features that prevent the unauthorised reading or “skimming” of data stored on the chip.

Many non-VWP countries around the world have also begun to issue e-passports to reduce the use of fraudulent travel documents and facilitate legitimate travel.

Travellers who wish to verify whether their passports meet the requirements and deadlines for VWP travellers should visit the US Embassy Dublin’s website at http://dublin.usembassy.gov or the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection website at http://www.cbp.gov.

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