Friday, 6 May 2016

US passport move - storm in a teacup?

Image copyright nycgo.com/Marley White
Tens of thousands of travellers risk being turned away from flights to the US because they don't have passports incorporating microchips. So claims one newspaper today. The number looks worldly inflated. I warned about this possibility at silvertraveladvisor.com in March. According the BBC reports at the time, no old style passports were issued after August 31, 2006. UK passports are valid for ten years. So while it may be m mighty inconvenient for them, the only travellers likely to be affected are those who received new passports in the five months between April 1, 2006 (that was the date this year that the US starting requiring e-passports) and August 31, 2006. Correct me, someone, if I have the dates wrong. If I'm right, the number at risk will have been shrunk for another reason: isome of them were issued with microchip passports in any case. However, none of this alters the fact that the requirement has been extremely poorly publicised and that Washington might take a leaf from the Canadian book. Since March 15 travellers to Canada have needed electronic travel authorisation - the broad equivalent of the US ESTA. But the Canadian Government, mindful that visitors might be caught unawares, decreed a period of grace until autumn, instructing border services officers to let travellers in provided they meet all other requirements. That said it would be a good idea to go online and get eTA before departure. It costs only CAN$7.

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