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Cablegate: Brunei Issues Biometric Passport

VZCZCXRO6159
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHBD #0139 1270835
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060835Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4213
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH 0038
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEAORC/USCBP WASHINGTON DC
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 000139

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR CA/VO, CA/FPP AND INL/HSTC
DEPARTMENT PASS KCC
POSTS FOR FRAUD PREVENTION MANAGER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CPAS CVIS KFRD CMGT ASEC BX
SUBJECT: Brunei Issues Biometric Passport

REF: A) Bandar Seri Begawan 133
B) Friedman-Rupp e-mail 5/5/08
C) 07 Bandar Seri Begawan 69

--------------------------
SUMMARY and ACTION REQUEST
--------------------------

1. (SBU) On May 5, the Government of Brunei (GoB) began issuing
ICAO-compliant biometric passports. Post requests Department
clearance to issue the press release in paragraph 4 and update our
web information for Brunei citizens seeking visa waiver travel to
the U.S. END SUMMARY and ACTION REQUEST.

------------------
COUNTRY CONDITIONS
------------------

2. (U) On May 5, the GoB announced the official launch of its
biometric passport program. In his public remarks, Minister of Home
Affairs Pehin Adanan Hj Mohd Yusof reportedly stated that the new
passport will allow Brunei citizens to enjoy visa waiver travel to
the U.S. Post has already received media inquiries about the impact
of the issuance of the new passports on the Visa Waiver Program.

3. (U) Although post has yet to receive our exemplars of the new
passport, we have been assured by our Immigration Department that
the new passports are fully compliant with ICAO standards for
biometric passports. According to press reports, the new passport
produced by the German firm Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) incorporates
the standard 72-kbyte encrypted RFID chip which will contain
biodata, photo, and 10-print fingerprints. Other security features
include digitized photograph, rainbow fluorescent security threads,
microprinting, and a polycarbonate security laminate on the data
page. The new passports will be issued with five years' validity
and will have a unique serial number - a break from Brunei's past
practice of using the holder's unique national identity card number
as the passport number. This past practice meant that replacement
passports for lost, stolen, or just expired passports were issued
with the same number as the old passport.

4. (SBU) Post would like to issue the following press release to
educate the public about the impact of the new passports on the visa
waiver program.

BEGIN DRAFT PRESS RELEASE and WEB POSTING:

The Embassy of the United States congratulates His Majesty's
Government on the announcement that it has begun issuing ICAO
compliant biometric passports.

The United States' Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows Bruneian
passport holders to enter the United States without the requirement
of a visa as long as they meet certain criteria. Brunei continues
to participate in the Visa Waiver Program, along with a select few
other countries.

Holders of Brunei's new biometric passports are eligible to apply
for entry to the U.S. as temporary visitors for business or pleasure
without a visa. Holders of a non-biometric, machine-readable
passport issued, renewed or extended on or after October 26, 2006,
must apply for a U.S. visa before they travel to the U.S. This is a
requirement for all VWP travelers worldwide. Holders of
non-biometric, machine-readable passports issued, renewed or
extended before October 26, 2006 may still use this passport to
participate in the Visa Waiver Program.

If you have any questions on this new requirement or require
clarification on whether this requirement will affect your travel
plans, please contact the American Embassy Consular Section at
222-0384. Additional information on the Visa Waiver Program may
also be found at www.travel.state.gov. Thank you.

END DRAFT PRESS RELEASE and WEB POSTING.

SKODON

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