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Passport Requirements for Visa Free Travel

General Information

Sample Machine Readable Passport

Sample - Machine Readable Passport

International travelers, who are nationals of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, seeking to travel to the United States without a visa, should review this important information on passport requirements for travelers under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Individuals traveling to or transiting the United States under the VWP must present a DHS-approved passport as indicated below.  

Passport requirements for VWP applicants who are nationals of the following  9 countries:

Citizens of the following 9 countries must present electronic (e-Passports) passports when applying for entry to the U.S. under the VWP: The Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Republic of Korea, and the Slovak Republic.  What is an e-Passport.

Passport requirements for VWP applicants who are nationals of the following  27 countries:

Andorra, Australia, Austria*, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany*, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom:

--October 26, 2005 - Passports issued prior to this date must be machine-readable.

--October 26, 2005 - Passports issued on or after this date must have a digital photo.  A digital photo is one that is printed on the page, not a photo that is glued or laminated into the passport.

--October 26, 2006 - Passports issued on or after this date must be an e-passport with an electronic chip.  Review further information on the DHS website.

Emergency and Temporary Passports

Effective July 1, 2009, for travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), all passports issued on and after October 26, 2006, including emergency and temporary passports, are subject to the electronic passport (e-passport) requirement.  Review changes to VWP travel for bearers of emergency/temporary passports webpage on this site.

It is important to note that families require individual passports for each traveler, including infants, should they wish to travel visa free. Machine-readable passports typically have biodata for only one traveler in the machine-readable zone. Based on this, families may be denied visa free entry into the United States if the biodata for only one traveler is machine-readable. Travelers not in possession of machine-readable passports will require either B-1 (business) or B-2 (tourist) visas, or a combination of both (B1/B2).  Review instructions on How To Apply For A Visa on this site.

The requirement that the traveler be in possession of a machine readable passport/e-Passport applies only to those seeking entry into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program; it does not apply to those applying for visas.

How do I know if I have a machine-readable passport?

View sample Machine Readable Passport at top of this page. Travelers should also look at the bottom of their passport [the photo page] for two lines that are typeface lines, that have letters, numbers and hatch marks." The two lines at the bottom of a machine-readable passport, for example, would look like the following:

LINE 2: PASSPORT NUMBER COUNTRY DOB<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Machine-readable passports allow data in the passport to be scanned automatically by a machine. The two lines of printed OCR-B machine-readable data (circled in red in the image of a U.S. machine-readable passport shown above) are the most noticeable features of a machine-readable passport. If you are in any doubt as to whether or not your passport is a machine-readable passport, you should check with the passport issuing authority of your country. Visit the DHS website for more information. 

*German Passports - Visit the U.S. Embassy Germany website for more information. 

 *Austrian Passports - Visit the U.S. Embassy Vienna website for more information about Austrian passports validity for VWP Travel.

Visit the Department of State's Consular Affairs website for further information about visa free travel and machine readable passports.

Changes to VWP Travel

  • Please Note: If you hold a temporary or emergency passport and you plan on traveling to the United States visa free under the Visa Waiver Program you will require an e-passport.  What is an e-passport?

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