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DHS Announces New Passport Requirements Today

June 15, 2005

DHS Announces New Passport Requirements Today
June 15, 2005 – Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced today that Visa Waiver Program countries will be required to produce passports with digital photographs by Oct. 26, 2005. On that date, all VWP countries must also present an acceptable plan to begin issuing integrated circuit chips, or e-passports, by Oct. 26, 2006.

"From the international inbound and outbound tourism industry standpoint, the latest DHS passport decision represents a small victory," Jim Santini, NTA Legislative Counsel, said today. "This is progress for those us who felt that the initial decision was on an impossible fast track that neither the foreign nations nor our own federal agencies could comply with."

After extensive consultation with Congress and the Department of State, as well as voiced concern from various tourism outlets, the DHS says that it will require a digital photograph of the passport holder’s face printed on the data page of the passport.

"The electronic passport is the path to secure and streamlined travel among Visa Waiver Program countries," said Secretary Chertoff. "These passport requirements will maintain and strengthen the integrity of the Visa Waiver Program in a manner consistent with congressional intent and international standards. We are pleased by the progress of many Visa Waiver countries in complying with these requirements and we look forward to working with all participating countries toward their speedy and complete adoption."

In order to facilitate compliance with e-passport requirements, DHS will create a validation process for VWP countries to test their e-passport prior to issuance. An upcoming technical conference with VWP countries and the United States government will clarify the details of this validation process, which will require that all e-passports be submitted by Sept. 1, 2006 in order to be validated by Oct. 26, 2006.

DHS will also be taking additional steps to strengthen document integrity by requiring VWP countries to report all lost and stolen passports to INTERPOL and DHS, report all intercepted lost and stolen passports and increase information sharing between VWP countries and the United States government on trends and analysis of lost and stolen passports.

As previously announced, effective June 26, 2005, any traveler from these 27 countries is also required to be in possession of a machine-readable passport to enter the United States.

"We are making progress, but we aren’t all there yet, " Santini said.

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