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New Zealand passports meet new USA requirements

Media Release 26 October 2006


New Zealand passports meet new USA requirements

New Zealanders can be confident of continuing visa free entry to the United States of America, says the Department of Internal Affairs. New passport requirements for entry to the USA come into effect today under the visa waiver programme.

The visa waiver programme provides visa free entry for travellers to the United States for a period of up to 90 days. New Zealand is one of 26 countries that has a visa waiver agreement with the USA.

"From today (26 October) all newly issued passports must contain a microchip that contains a digitised version of the passport holder's photograph and other biodata," says David Philp, Passports Manager.

He says New Zealand has issued chip enabled or e-passports since November 2005. "We have been meeting this requirement since we introduced the e-passport last year. Passports issued before 4 November 2005 meet the visa waiver conditions as the new requirements only apply to newly issued passports, providing they are machine readable."

A very small proportion of New Zealand passports issued before October 2004 at Foreign Affairs offices overseas are not machine readable and therefore have not met USA requirements for visa waiver entry since then. If people have a manual passport and are travelling through the USA they must apply for a new passport or consider getting a USA visa prior to travelling.

David Philp says New Zealanders should check their passports before travelling. "You need to check that your passport will be valid for the period of your travel, that it is in good condition with no damage and that it is machine readable. If you need a new passport or have any questions go to this website www.passports.govt.nz or call Freephone on 0800 22 50 50.

ENDS

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