HC Deb 11 February 2004 vol 417 c1466W
Mr. Grogan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of the United States on their policy that all visitors from the United Kingdom travelling on passports issued after 16 October without a biometric chip will require a visa; and if he will make a statement. [154470]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary wrote to the US Secretary of State on 16 December 2003 to express concern at the US legislation and suggest that a joint FCO/UK Passport Service delegation visit Washington to discuss ways forward. The team visited Washington from 21–23 January. It asked the US to extend its deadline of 26 October 2004 for visitors' new UK passports to contain either a biometric identifier or a US visa. The US noted the UK position, and a formal response is awaited.

The scale of the technical challenge currently makes the US requirement unachievable for the UK, and most other countries, before the end of 2005.

British citizens visiting the US with machine-readable passports issued before 26 October 2004 are not affected by the new US requirement.

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