Travelling to the USA

17/05/2016

Check your passport



Chip.jpg
If you are planning a visit to the US this year and you have gone to a lot of effort to organise your artificial nutrition and paperwork, take a few minutes to check your passport.

The rules changed on 1st April 2016, meaning that you can't enter the US on an ESTA unless you have an e-passport. E-passports contain a chip and will have the symbol in the image (above), on the front cover.

If your passport was issued on or after 26th October 2006, it should have a chip in it (and therefore the symbol above on the front cover). If it does and it's still valid, you can apply for an ESTA as normal.

If you don't have an e-passport, the cheapest and easiest option is to renew your passport to get one with a chip in (£72.50 from the Passport Office, usually takes three weeks) before applying via the normal route.

If you don't do that, you can apply for a tourism visa from the US Embassy which can take three to six weeks to clear and costs $160 (about £114).

This applies even if you got an ESTA less than two years ago on your current non-chipped passport. Even though ESTAs are valid for two years, it will be cancelled unless your passport has a chip in it. 

Check and make sure you don't get left having to turn around and come home after all the planning for your much deserved holiday/trip.

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