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    British Tourists Without New Passports Banned From Entering US

    CC BY 2.0 / Christopher Elison / UK biometric passport
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    For the thousands of Britons who have booked trips to America recently, their travels may end before they begin, as last month the US quietly rolled out new entry requirements in a stated effort to boost security.

    On April 1, the Department of Homeland Security changed admission rules for all foreigners so that every person entering the US is required to have a biometric passport, sometimes referred to as an e-passport.

    "All travellers wishing to enter the US under the VWP (Visa Waiver Programme) now need to hold a passport with an integrated chip (an ePassport). Your passport is an ePassport if it carries this internationally recognized symbol on the front cover," the YouGov information reads.

    For many tourists that have UK passports the news came as an unwelcome revelation.

    News of the new visa standard went viral after a Facebook post by Briton Vic Ryan, who stated that changes in American legislation, of which he had been unaware till the very moment of scheduled departure from the country, had “ruined” a family trip to Florida.

    "We saved long and hard for this holiday and filled in all the necessary online forms including API and ESTA's only a couple of weeks ago, only to turn up at the check-in desk to be advised that I would not be allowed to travel, as I did not have a biometric passport whilst the rest of our family had them. Despite calls to the USA from the lady on check-in they would not permit travel.”

    In an angry post, Ryan underscored that the firm arranging the trip, Thomson Holidays, failed to inform him in advance of the new regulations and then refused to admit responsibility for the travel hurdles.

    "Yet a month on, Thomson are still not advising people who have booked with them of the change and on calling their customer services, if you can call it that, they are just placing the onus back on the passenger citing 'it is the travelers responsibility to check everything is valid for travel.'”

    Eventually the traveler reached America, but three days later than planned.

    There’s no accurate figure on how many Brits have passports that do not meet the new US requirements. Since 2006, all passports issued in the country have been biometric. But given that as many as 3.8 million Brits visit America annually, the number of those who might be turned away at passport control could run into thousands, the Mirror assessed.

    Following the incident, the travel operator vowed to make tourists aware of the new entry rules beforehand.

    “Given this is a recent change and to help customers, we will review if we can highlight the requirement of an electronic passport on relevant customer communications,” a spokesman for Thomson stated, quoted by Express.


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