DHS installs e-passport readers at airports to meet deadline

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Machines capable of reading electronic passports have been installed in several airports including New York (Kennedy), Los Angeles, Washington (Dulles) and Newark, according to the Dept. of Homeland Security.

The DHS is working to get the passport readers in place by Oct. 26 when travelers from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program will be required to carry passports embedded with digital photographs and other data in order to enter the U.S. without a visa.

E-passports feature an international e-passport symbol on the cover. They also contain an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip that contains digital information about the passport holder, such as biographic information and a biometric identifier, which could include a digital photograph or fingerprints of the holder.

All e-passports issued by VWP countries and the U.S. also have security features to prevent the unauthorized reading or "skimming" of data stored on the chip, the DHS said.

Countries participating in the VWP are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

VWP countries reciprocate by permitting U.S. travelers to visit without visas as well.

The DHS said 13 million people each year travel to the U.S. under the VWP to study, conduct business, visit family or tour the country.

To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].

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See related article, "Smooth sailing: Denver office debuts first e-passport branch."

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