November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
USA officials have confirmed that 24 of the 27 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries have met the deadline requiring all newly issued passports to contain a contact-less chip with the passport holder's biographic information and a biometric identifier, such as a digital photograph of the holder.
An e-passport securely identifies the bearer, defends against identity theft, protects privacy and makes it difficult for individuals to cross borders using fraudulent documents. During the past two years, the US government has collaborated with VWP countries to develop the technical standards and capability to ensure that the e-passports were operable with the readers at US ports of entry.
"The department is committed to shutting down the ability of terrorists and criminals to use false travel documents to move freely through our borders. The upgrade to e-passports is a significant advance in preventing terrorists from using lost or stolen passports to obtain entry into the United States," said DHS secretary Michael Chertoff. "I applaud the many Visa Waiver Program countries in compliance with this requirement, and we continue to work closely with the remaining countries toward their speedy and complete compliance."
Other types of valid passports that can be used to enter the United States include: machine-readable passports with a digital photograph issued before October 26 2006, or a machine-readable passport issued before October 26 2005. Recent visits to the United States (and transits) by ABTN staff members indicate that whilst there can be occasional hold-ups, for the most part the American authorities are at least equal to others for immigration controls.
The United States will continue to work with the three countries not yet issuing e-passports ” Andorra, Brunei and Liechtenstein ” to ensure that they meet the requirement as soon as possible. Travellers from these countries will need to obtain a visa to enter the United States if they hold a passport issued on or after October 26 2006, until e-passports are available.
The Visa Waiver Program applies to citizens of the 27 countries travelling to the United States for 90 days or less for tourism or business. Approximately 15m people each year travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program to conduct business, visit family or tour the country.