Flying to the US? You Need an e-Passport to Get in the Country

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

An extremely important change to US visa requirements came into effect at the beginning of last month, and it turns out that many holidaymakers -- myself included -- didn’t have a clue. As of April 1st, you’re not allowed to travel to the Land of Trump and... Glory if you don’t own an e-passport.

With over a million old-style passports still in use across the UK, that’s a big problem, and numerous travellers have reportedly, and unsurprisingly, already been caught out. The change was made late last year under the US Terrorist Travel Prevention Act 2015, but doesn’t appear to have got the publicity it really should have on our shores.

“As of 1 April 2016, all travellers must have an e-passport to use the [visa waiver programme],” reads the Department of Homeland Security website. Pretty clear if you visit it. However, the Foreign Office travel advice website contains one easy-to-miss reference to the change at the end of a paragraph in the middle of the page, while airlines -- all of which have kept extremely quiet -- insist that all responsibility should fall on individual travellers' shoulders.

If you've already booked a trip across the pond and need to upgrade to an e-passport, set aside at least £128. You'll need to make an appointment at a passport office in either London, Liverpool, Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, Newport or Peterborough too, and the entire process takes at least three weeks. Happy holidays. [Guardian]