Bad news for anyone travelling to the USA this year…

Passport rules have changed, which means that many Brits are unknowingly BANNED from flying to America…

Two women having fun in NYC, wearing novelty sunglasses

by Kayleigh Dray |
Published on

We’re all going on a summer holiday, no more working for a week or two…

Except it WON’T be all fun and laughter on a lot of our summer holidays - especially for those heading off on a long-haul flight to the USA.


According to new anti-terror laws in America, which came into force on 1 April 2016, we must now possess passports with specified security features to holiday there.

So what are the must-have security features?

US Homeland Security states:

    They also need to fill in a form to obtain a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorisation.

    BBC News explains: “This is not a visa, but is part of a system to increase security for travellers entering the US from the 38 countries signed up to the Visa Waiver Programme - including the UK.”

    They added that babies, and those traveling through America in transit, also require an Esta.

    Indian couple looking at NYC skyline

    The Department of Homeland Security explains: “E-passports are issued by the proper passport issuing authority and must meet international standards for securing and storing information corresponding to the passport and traveller.”

    As the rule was so quietly brought into effect, tens of thousands of British travellers now face being turned away from holiday and business flights to the US.

    And many have been turned away already, missing out on their dream holidays as a result.

    However the Department of Homeland Security do not claim any responsibility over this, insisting that the warnings stated “anyone with a passport issued in 2006 needed an e-passport after April 1, 2016”.

    They added: “We also sent out at least two notices to the airlines on how to verify e-passports.”

    Thankfully, airlines and travel companies are doing all they can to help prepare Brits travelling the the USA.

    Hand holding ePassport

    Thomson told The Independent: “Given this is a recent change and to help customers, we will review if we can highlight the requirement of an electronic passport on relevant customer communications.”

    British Airways added: “The week before our customers travel to the US, we also send a reminder email recommending they check they have the right documentation, with links to detailed information on the changes on the Department for Homeland Security website.”

    If you’re worried, it’s very easy to check if you own an ePassport.

    Check the front cover; it should feature a rectangle bisected by a horizontal line, with a circle in the middle (as pictured above).

    If it does, you have a biometric passport and will still be able to travel to America.

    If you do not, it’s worth applying for a new passport ASAP.

    Or, if this is not a possibility, you can obtain a non-immigrant visa from your nearest US embassy or consulate.

    Will you be affected by these new anti-terror laws?

    Let us know via Facebook or Twitter (@CloserOnline) now.

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