U.S. to Fine Airlines for Violation of New Passport Rule

WASHINGTON -- The United States will start requiring those entering the nation without a visa to hold a machine-readable passport as scheduled on June 26 and will fine carriers $3,300 per violation for transporting travelers without it, the Homeland Security Department said Thursday.

The United States currently does not require visas from citizens of Japan and 26 other countries as part of a visa waiver program.

As part of its enhanced security measures after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States had originally planned to impose the requirement on Oct. 1, 2003, but postponed it due to delays on the side of the visa waiver countries to prepare the machine-readable passport.

The Homeland Security Department said it is also maintaining a separate deadline requiring passports issued on or after Oct. 26 by the visa waiver countries to contain biometrics.

But Japan and many other countries have been urging the United States to postpone that deadline due to technical problems in preparing biometric passports by then.