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National Business Travel Association

NBTA calls biometric passport extension for visa waiver countries a victory for the business travel industry and the U.S. economy

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) lauded an announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that it would postpone by one year…

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) lauded an announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that it would postpone by one year, to October 26, 2006, the deadline for countries in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to begin issuing passports with biometric data identifying the passport holder. That extension will give the 27 U.S. allies in the program an opportunity to implement the required technology, avoiding the possibility of turning away visitors from those nations or requiring them to obtain visas before coming to the United States.



The announcement also indicates that VWP countries will be required to issue passports with digital photos by October 26, 2005. Most or all of the VWP countries are likely to be able to meet the digital photo requirement, advancing the goal of more secure passports for visa-free travel without harming the U.S. economy.



Extending the deadline for the biometric passport requirement while continuing to move toward more secure passports is a great compromise, said Carol A. Devine, CCTE. This plan will protect the vital economic interest of the United States by ensuring that business travelers can come here from our main trading partners to do business. On behalf of the international business travel community, NBTA extends its thanks and congratulations to the officials from the Department of Homeland Security and other Administration officials who reached this solution.



NBTA was at the meeting of the Travel & Tourism Coalition where DHS announced the plan.



DHS also indicated it would work with VWP countries to ensure that they can implement the required biometric passport technology in time for the October 2006 deadline. A year in advance of the deadline, those nations will be required to submit a plan for how they will begin issuing biometric passports. The United States will also provide a process by which it will validate VWP nation biometric passports prior to issuance. As part of that initiative, the United States will hold a conference with the 27 nations on the validation process.



Devine added, NBTA has spent years providing information on the VWP biometric passport issue to corporate travel professionals, gathering information from its members and from international partner organizations about the impact of the requirement, lobbying for a later deadline, and providing tools for grassroots lobbying efforts. Now that effort has paid off.



She continued, The postponement of the biometric passport requirement for visa waiver countries is a victory for the business travel industry and the U.S. economy. We would like to thank the Department of Homeland Security for recognizing the need to extend the deadline and for its commitment to working with the VWP countries in order to ensure the new deadline is met. We would also like to thank those who have supported the effort to extend the deadline, including Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who introduced bills in the Senate and House designed to accomplish that goal.



NBTA will continue to monitor the development of the VWP biometric passport requirement to ensure that the needs of the business travel community are met.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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