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WARNING: Machine Readable Passport Deadline Set for June 26, 2005

Effective June 26, 2005, travelers from the 27 countries participating in the United States' Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must have a machine-readable passport to enter the United States. Machine-readable passports have a sequence of lines that can be swiped to confirm the passport holder's identity quickly and to obtain other information about the holder typically found on a passport's inside cover. A sample of a machine readable passport can be found here. Affected travelers thinking of traveling to the United States are encouraged to check with their passport issuing authority to ensure they are in possession of a machine-readable passport. Airlines have been instructed to deny boarding to travelers from VWP countries that do not have machine-readable passports. In the event a traveler arrives from a VWP country without a machine readable passport, the transporting airline will be fined $3,300 per violation and may be required to return the traveler on the next available flight.

The 27 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program include: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The Department of Homeland Security's news release can be found at: http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=4499.

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