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Does Your Passport Qualify for Travel Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?
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Visa 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 26, 2004.

How do I know if I have a machine-readable passport?

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.

An 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 and Belgium.

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 readable.

I have recently read about additional passport requirements which will come into effect on October 26, 2005.

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 information.

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.

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