Biometric Passports Now Mandatory For International Travel To US

Vic Ryan

Thousands of Brits with a valid passport can still be refused entry to the US after a strict change in the country’s entry requirements.

From April 1 all travellers to America must have a biometric, or e-passport, or they won’t be allowed into the country.

Prior to this British passport holders did not need a visa to enter the US under the visa waiver scheme – but had to complete an ESTA form.

Vic Ryan, from Nottinghamshire, said his holiday was ‘ruined’ after falling foul of the new law.

On May 1, he posted on Facebook: “I was supposed to be on a flight this morning travelling to Florida for a holiday with my family booked through Thomson.

(c) tirc83 Birthday presents
Old style UK passports are no longer any good for travellers to the US

“We saved long and hard for this holiday and filled in all the necessary online forms including API and ESTA’s only a couple of weeks ago only to turn up at the check in desk to be advised that I would not be allowed to travel as I did not have a biometric passport whilst the rest of our family had them, despite calls to the USA from the lady on check in they would not permit travel.

“This is a change that came into force from USA Homeland Security on the April 1, 2016, which nobody including Thomson seemed to be aware of until they were confronted with it on the day it came into force.

“Yet a month on Thomson are still not advising people who have booked with them of the change and on calling their customer services, if you can call it that, they are just placing the onus back on the passenger citing ‘it is the travellers responsibility to check everything is valid for travel’.

Getty The Statue of Liberty
Brit travellers to the US could be disappointed

He added: “I have now spent best part of three hours on the phone being passed from pillar to post and had to fork out over £500 to try and get to the US on Wednesday to meet up with a very distraught family to try and rescue a totally ruined holiday.”

Mr Ryan’s post, which has been shared almost 50,000 times, was intended raise awareness of the issue for other travellers.

The frustrated tourist eventually boarded a flight to join his family on May 4.

A spokesman for Thomson said: ” We’re sorry to hear that a small number of customers have been unclear on the passport and visa guidelines for entry into the United States of America.

Getty Us border control
Tourists are advised to check the US immigration website before they travel

“Under the US government guidelines anyone travelling after 1 April 2016 requires an electronic passport.

“In line with these guidelines, customers are asked to read about and obtain relevant documentation that meets the entry requirements.

“We also advise customers it’s their responsibility to check the passport, visa and health requirements for their holiday destination on the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

“However, given this is a recent change and to help customers, we will review if we can highlight the requirement of an electronic passport on relevant customer communications.”

People flying to see the Grand Canyon should check their documents

All passports issued in the UK since October 2006 have been biometric, the home office confirmed.

With 3.8 million British travellers to the US each year, the number affected could run into the tens of thousands.

Travel information on the US Department of Homeland Security says: “As of April 1, 2016, all travellers must have an e-passport to use the VWP.

“An e-Passport, denoted by the symbol, is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip.

“E-Passports are issued by the proper passport issuing authority and must meet international standards for securing and storing information corresponding to the passport and bearer. ”

Original Article:


    1. I suspect so, since a passport in necessary to travel between Canada and US- and the new law applies to international tourists (and soon migrants and shortly after ALL individuals)


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