Machine-Readable Passport Requirement Postponed for Visa Waiver Program

The State Department has granted a postponement until October 26, 2004, as the date by which Visa Waiver Program travelers from 21 countries must present a machine-readable passport at a U.S. port of entry to be admitted to the country without a visa. The new passport rules were supposed to take effect on October 1, 2003.

The countries, including Japan, for which the postponement has been granted are:

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

* Luxembourg is included as of Nov. 11, 2003.

Travelers from four other eligible countries must present either a Machine-Readable Passport or a U.S. visa. They are Andorra, Brunei, Liechtenstein and Slovenia.

Belgian citizens have been required to present a Machine-Readable Passport since May 15, 2003.

Who needs a Machine-Readable Passport?
All citizens who wish to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) on or after October 26, 2004 must present a machine-readable passport (MRP). VWP nationals who do not have MRPs must obtain a U.S. non-immigrant visa. Bearers of diplomatic and official passports that are not machine-readable will also need visas. Families should obtain an individual passport for each traveler, including infants.

  1. MRPs typically have biodata for only one traveler in the machine-readable zone, and families may be denied visa-free entry into the U.S. if the biodata for only one traveler is machine-readable.

  2. This change affects only visa waiver travel. Applicants for visas at U.S. consular sections are not required to obtain MRPs, regardless of the category of visa being sought. Japan began issuing MRPs domestically in 1992.