free travelers, including children, entering the
United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
require individual machine-readable passports (MRP).
This requirement has been in place since October
How do I know if I have a machine-readable
Machine-readable passports allow data in the passport
to be scanned automatically by a machine. There
are two lines of letters, numbers and ´>´s
printed at the bottom of the personal information
page, that is, the page with photograph and personal
details. (circled in red in the image of a U.S.
machine-readable passport shown below) If you are
in any doubt as to whether or not your passport
is machine-readable, you should check with the passport
issuing authority of your country.
example of a machine-readable passport
The text circled in red indicates the two
lines of machine-readable data.
Click the image for a larger view.
I know people who have traveled under the VWP without
a machine-readable passport after October 26, 2004.
For a limited period that started on October
26, 2004, immigration inspectors at U.S. ports of
entry had the authority to grant an exemption of
the machine-readable passport requirement to nationals
of 22 of the 27 VWP countries. This ends on June
25, 2005. From June 26, 2005, all VWP travelers
must be in possession of individual machine readable
passports. If not, the traveler will be required
to either apply for a U.S. visa, or obtain a new
passport which is machine-readable.
Note: The passport exemption does not apply to passport
holders from Andorra, Brunei, Liechtenstein, Slovenia
I do not have a machine readable passport.
If you do not have a machine readable passport you
will either be required to apply for a U.S. visa,
or if you wish to continue traveling visa free under
the VWP, obtain a new passport which is machine
I have recently read about additional passport
requirements which will come into effect on October
The additional passport requirements will affect
only those VWP travelers whose passports are issued
on or after October 26, 2005. If
your passport is issued before this date, you need
only be concerned that it is machine-readable.
What are these additional requirements?
Passports issued on or after October 26, 2005, must include a biometric identifier
based on applicable standards established by the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO). The Department of Homeland Security has announced that from
October 26, 2005, a digital photograph of the passport holder's face printed on
the data page of the passport will be the acceptable standard. Passports issued
on or after October 26, 2006, must also include an integrated circuit chip capable
of storing the biographic information from the data page, a digitized photograph
and other biometric information.
How do I know if I have a biometric passport?
You need only be concerned about the biometric passport
requirement if your passport will be issued on or
after October 26, 2005, and you intend traveling
visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.
Passports issued on after October 26, 2005, must contain a digital photograph
of the passport holder's face on the data page of the passport. Many VWP countries
already produce such passports. If you are in any doubt as to whether or not your
passport contains a digital photograph, please check with the passport issuing
authority of your country.
Passports issued on or after October 26, 2006, must
also contain an integrated circuit chip capable
of storing the biographic information from the data
page, a digitized photograph and other biometric
What is an E-passport or Smart passport?
It is a biometric passport which is capable of storing
the biographic information from the data page, a
digitized photograph and other biometric information.