Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Travel
Changes to Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Travel for Bearers of Emergency/Temporary Passports
Ending the E-Passport Exemption
Effective July 1, 2009, Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries' emergency and temporary passports are subject to the electronic passport (e-passport) requirement. Any VWP national or citizen intending to apply for admission under the VWP with an emergency or temporary passport that is issued on/after October 26, 2006, and which is not an e-passport, are required to apply for a U.S. visa prior to travel or apply for a waiver at a U.S. port of entry. For any traveler who arrives with a non-compliant emergency or temporary passport and is otherwise admissible, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers may exercise discretion to grant a waiver, without fee, pursuant to section 212(d)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This exercise of discretion is consistent with CBP’s existing policies on the exercise of discretion, and the alien may be denied entry if he or she poses a threat of terrorism or criminality, or of contributing to the illegal population. VWP nationals who present non-electronic official or diplomatic passports also can benefit from CBP's discretionary authority to offer no-fee waivers. The normal fee for the waiver is $545.00.
Passport requirements for VWP citizens and nationals presenting regular, not emergency or temporary, passports remain unchanged. Regular passports issued as of October 26, 2006, for admission under VWP must be e-passports.
An e-passport contains an electronic chip. The chip holds the same information that is printed on the passport's data page: the holder's name, date of birth, and other biographic information. An e-Passport also contains a biometric identifier. The United States requires that the chip contain a digital photograph of the holder. All e-Passports issued by Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries and the United States have security features to prevent the unauthorized reading or "skimming" of data stored on the e-passport chip.
The requirement that the traveler be in possession of a machine readable passport and e-passport applies only to those seeking entry into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program; it does not apply to those traveling with visas.
The e-passport requirement does not apply to nationals and citizens of non-VWP countries that travel on nonimmigrant visas or for whom visas are not required. Nationals and citizens of non-VWP countries may continue to present regular emergency and temporary passports that are not e-passports for admission into the United States.
This requirement will not affect U.S. citizens entering the United States on non-compliant emergency or temporary U.S. passports.
What is an e-Passport?
An e-Passport has this international symbol on the cover.
Review U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website for more information regarding e-Passports.
For travelers that need to apply for a visa, please view our website page How to Apply for a Nonimmigrant Visa.
ePassport International Symbol
e-Passport International Symbol