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Machine-readable passports needed for USA travel


Machine-readable passports needed for USA travel

Every visitor to the USA will need a machine-readable passport from October under changes to the Visa Waiver Programme.

Anyone without their own machine-readable passport, including children, will need a visa to travel to the USA. An estimated 200,000 people currently hold non machine- readable passports.

All British Passports issued in the UK, and the vast majority of those issued at British Missions overseas, are machine-readable. By the end of 2003 all full British passports issued overseas will be machine- readable.

You can check if your passport is machine-readable by seeing if there are two lines of text printed on the white stripe at the bottom of the personal information page. If there is no white strip, or the white strip is blank, the passport cannot be read by a machine.

Foreign Office Minister for Consular Affairs Baroness Symons said travellers should check their passports, and make sure that children have their own.

"We have been issuing children with their own passports since 1998, but we estimate that up to four million under-16 year-olds are still travelling on a parent's passport. After 1 October they'll need their own passport to enter the States," she said.

"The key to having a trouble-free holiday is to know before you go. So take time to check you have the right and valid travel documents and, if necessary, apply in good time for a new passport. If you don't, your holiday could be over before it's even started."

Further details on entry requirements for the USA can be found on the Foreign Office website:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/travel/unitedstates


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