The Department of Homeland security announced late last week that nearly all of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries have met the requirement for issuing e-Passports. Currently, 24 of the 27 participation countries have met the United States’ deadline that requires all newly issued passports to include a contactless biochip with the passport holder’s biographic information, along with a biometric identifier.
“The department is committed to shutting down the ability of terrorists and criminals to use false travel documents to move freely through our borders,” said DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. “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.”
In July of last year, the DHS announced the new requirement for these e-Passports for all VWP countries, with a deadline of October 26, 2006 for implementation. The three countries that have not yet implemented these updated passports are Andorra, Brunei and Liechtenstein. The U.S. is working closely with these countries to ensure that they meet this requirement as soon as possible. Currently, all travelers from these three countries will need to obtain a visa to enter the United States if they hold a passport that was issued on or after October 26, 2006, until e-Passports are made available.