E-passport readers installed at several airports

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Machines capable of reading electronic passports have been installed at several airports, including New York's Kennedy, Los Angeles, Washington Dulles and Newark.

The Department of Homeland Security said it was working to get the passport readers in place by Oct. 26.

That's when travelers from countries that participate 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. The mandate applies to passports on or after that date.

Electronic passports feature an international e-passport symbol on the cover and have a "contactless" chip embedded inside with the passport holder's biographic information and a biometric identifier, such as a digital photograph of the holder.

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

Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program 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 U.K.

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

Homeland Security said 13 million people each year travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program 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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