Travelling to the US? Don't get caught out by this new passport rule

Up to 80,000 Brits could be barred from entering the country as they have the wrong type of passport.

Thousands of British travellers heading to the US could be denied entry because their passports are too old.

The Department of Homeland Security introduced a new law last month which only grants access to passengers who have e-passports with a biometric chip. 

As the new passports were brought in a decade ago, affected documents are likely to be limited to those issued between June and October 2006. You can tell if your passport is biometric by checking if there’s a small rectangle on the bottom of the front cover of your passport.  

It's estimated that as many as 80,000 people with this type of passport have plans to travel to the US.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have been alerting travellers hopping across the pond of the changes. “We have no way of knowing whether a person has a valid passport,” said a British Airways spokesman.

Avoid rip-off foreign usage fees with these cards

I’m travelling to the US and don’t have an ePassport! What should I do?

If you're travelling in three weeks or less, you can get your passport updated quickly for a bit of extra cash.

You’ve got two options here: the one-week Fast Track service (£103) and the one-day Premium service (£128). In both cases you need to book an appointment at a Passport Customer Service Centre- they’re based up and down the country.

The one-week service, as its name will suggest, is sent to your home within one week of your appointment (excluding bank holidays) if you provide a completed application form, two photos and all of the necessary supporting documents.

Those going for the Premium service can pick up their passport only four hours after their appointment.

A word of warning: you won’t get a refund if you can’t go to your appointment, but you can change the booking if it’s at least two days away. There’s also the option of sending someone else to your appointment if you’re in the UK. They’ll need to bring ID and a signed and dated letter from you and the application receipt.

Unfortunately, UK emergency travel documents aren’t valid under the Visa Waiver Programme. Find out more by visiting

Travellers who have a non-biometric passport must apply for a visa from the nearest US embassy or consulate.

Don't forget your travel insurance! Find a single or multi-trip policy which covers the USA at the loveMONEY travel insurance centre.

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