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Travel Industry Association of America

Travel Industry Association applauds administration`s move enabling millions of overseas visitors continued access to the U.S.

The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) applauded announcement by the Administration concerning…

The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) applauded announcement by the Administration concerning the biometric passport requirement for Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers entering the United States.



This announcement means millions of overseas visitors from our biggest markets can continue to travel here visa-free, said Roger J. Dow, TIA`s President and Chief Executive Officer. This is critical to our nation`s economy, our diplomatic efforts with key allies and it helps to enhance our image abroad. The `welcome mat` is indeed still out for all visitors.



TIA, along with dozens of other travel organizations and individual travel companies, has been lobbying aggressively for either an extension of the biometric passport deadline or some other administrative solution that would guarantee the continuation of visa-free travel for millions of visitors from the 27 Visa Waiver Program countries.



This is a great example of the travel industry pulling together to accomplish an important objective, Dow said.



The announcement from the Department of Homeland Security would permit travelers to continue coming here from VWP countries with passports that feature a high-resolution digital photo that is securely embedded in the document, even as countries continue to work toward the eventual goal of incorporating biometric identifiers on chips in the passports. The result is that prospective visitors can continue to book trips to the United States with confidence that documentary rules will not interfere with their travels to the U.S.



Nearly 14 million visitors entered the U.S. from a Visa Waiver Program country in 2004.



On behalf of TIA, I wish to publicly thank House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner and others in Congress for their leadership in helping to achieve this positive result, Dow said. This decision demonstrates fairness and flexibility on the part of the federal government, and sends a very positive signal to foreign governments and overseas visitors alike.



A summary of the new requirements is as follows:

  • As of October 26 of this year, all countries must issue passports with digital photos or the required chip (e-passport) containing biometric information about the individual.
  • However, anyone issued a passport prior to October 26, 2005, will be grandfathered in and allowed to visit the U.S. until the passport expires.
  • All VWP countries must issue the required biometric chip (e-passport) by October 26, 2006.


The Department of Homeland Security also reiterated that beginning on June 26, 2005 all VWP visitors entering the U.S. must possess a machine-readable passport (MRP).

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