Thursday, October 26, 2006

Most Visa Waiver Countries Meet e-Passport Deadline

RFID Law Journal

Newsletter No. 30

October 26, 2006

Washington, D.C. - A significant majority of the 27 Visa Waiver Program countries met today’s DHS deadline requiring issuance of e-Passports. Some 24 of 27 VWP countries[1] collaborated with U.S. officials toward a collective goal of issuing electronic passports. An e-Passport contains a contactless chip with the passport holder’s biographic information and biometric identifier (e.g., digital photo of the passport holder). VWP countries collaborated with US officials in an attempt to improve the security features for international travel documents and prevent their fraudulent use. DHS officials consider the usage of the e-Passport as a significant step toward shutting down the ability of terrorists and criminals to use false travel documents to facilitate free movement over borders. It is believed that the e-Passport will help prevent the use of lost or stolen passport by terrorists and criminals for entry into the United States.

At this stage, the U.S. is working with three VWP countries, Andorra, Brunei and Liechtenstein, to bring their e-Passport initiatives online. Until e-Passports become available, citizens of these three VWP countries will require a visa to enter the US to the extent that such citizens hold passports issued on or after October 26, 2006.

Other valid passports may be used by VWP country citizens for entry into the U.S., including machine-readable passports containing a digital photo issued prior to October 26, 2006 or a machine-readable passport issued prior to October 26, 2005.

VWP travelers can determine if their passports meet the new requirements at the following website: You can also learn more at two new websites supported by the Department of Homeland Security: and

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[1] Visa Waiver Program countries include the following 27 nations: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 13 million people travel annually to the U.S. under this program to study, conduct business, visit family and holiday.


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