Biometric Passports Soon Likely for Australians

Electronic passports are likely to be issued to Australians from the end of October onwards.

Officials want to introduce the documents by that time to ensure citizens will be able to take part in the US visa waiver programme.

As reported in Gulf News, later this month the United States will insist that people entering the country as part of its visa waiver programme have a machine-readable passport.

On October 26 the rules are going to be toughened further so that people will need a biometric passport also called an electronic passport that contains data such as the shape of a person's face or the imprint of their eye.

The visa waiver programme allows passport holders from countries such as Australia, Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom to enter the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.

Those without a machine-readable passport which contains two lines of data at the bottom of the photo page must obtain a visa to enter the United States. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has now announced the ePassports will be released by the October 26 deadline.

The Australian biometric passports will have a computer chip that contains an image of the passport holder. The Australian Embassy in Abu Dhabi was unable to confirm when it will begin issuing biometric passports.