Your Complete Guide to the ePassport

Travelers likely have an ePassport if they received their federal documents recently. This protective measure was designed to help improve passport security and to help make international travel more efficient. Most travelers have a digital passport and do not even realize it. This is due to the fact that the government began issuing these documents to applicants at the end of 2006. However, travelers who received their documents before that year may not have these secure passports. In these instances, individuals should consider requesting a passport renewal so they can obtain these updated documents.

There are various benefits to having an electronic passport. Furthermore, travelers should be aware that these secure IDs are becoming commonplace throughout the world. Without these documents, U.S. citizens and nationals risk being unable to enter certain countries without visas. Likewise, travelers who do not have these passports may be at a greater likelihood of having their identity stolen while traveling.

What is an ePassport?

The electronic passport is a solution to various issues around international travel and identity. These documents contain a chip that holds individuals’ biometric information. This electronic transfer of information enables travelers to scan their documents in a machine readable passport scanner. This can allow immigration authorities to have access to:

  • Names.
  • Passport pictures.
  • Physical descriptions.
  • Passport numbers.

If the federal government issued your document after 2006, you likely have a digital passport. There should be a small rectangular symbol on the front of your document if this is the case. This proves that your passport is one of these electronic documents.

Do all U.S. citizens have a digital passport?

If you received your passport on or after October 2, 2006, you likely have an electronic passport. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) helped to initiate this shift toward a US passport biometric feature. This is because the VWP made it possible for citizens in specific countries to visit the United States without a visa if they are staying fewer than 90 days. However, travelers must be visiting for leisure or business, and they must have ePassports. To comply with this law, the United States also began to issue secure digital passports. Examples of other countries that participate in VWP and issue secure passports to citizens and nationals include:

  • Australia.
  • Chile.
  • France.
  • Germany.
  • Japan.
  • Singapore.

Benefits of Having an Electronic Passport

There are various benefits to citizens who have an ePassport in the USA. These advantages include:

  • Identity protection – With the added security measures that come with these passports, travelers are less likely to have their identity stolen. This is especially valuable if passports are lost or taken.
  • Personal privacy – The passport biometric feature allows for your personal information to be stored safely on a chip. The safety measures surrounding this document also make it harder for hackers to steal information.
  • No alteration – Due to the way these passports are designed, it is very difficult to alter the information stored in them.