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VWP: Further Guidance and Talking Points on Ending the E-Passport Exemption for Emergency and Temporary Passports

Reference Document: STATE 058117, 06/09


1.  Summary.  This cable was coordinated with DHS. Reftel A announced the end of the validity of non-electronic emergency and temporary passports for travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).  Paragraph 2 gives talking points regarding VWP-compliant passport requirements for use with host governments.  The Department will forward via email a copy of the CBP information sheet for travelers to all VWP posts and any other posts that request them. End Summary.

2.  Talking Points for use with Host Governments of pre-2008 VWP countries (NOTE:  Nationals of countries admitted to the VWP in 2008 have been required since their admission to travel on e-passports, regardless of the passport type - regular, emergency, or temporary):

-- The various laws governing the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) require that travel to the United States under the VWP must be with an electronic passport (e-passport) if that passport was issued on/after October 26, 2006.

-- The law does not provide an exception for temporary and emergency passports.  Therefore, effective July 1, 2009, all emergency or temporary passports must be e-Passports to be eligible for travel to the United States, including transit through the United States, under the VWP.

-- The USG does not wish to inhibit legitimate emergency travel for those who are not able to acquire an e-passport before their travel.

-- Travelers who must travel on non-electronic emergency or temporary passports should make every attempt to obtain a U.S. Visa.  U.S. Embassies and Consulates will accommodate emergency visa applications to the extent possible.

-- Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at U.S. ports of entry have the authority to grant discretionary waivers of the e-passport requirement to those VWP travelers who are determined to be otherwise admissible and who truly are traveling in emergency circumstances or are legitimately unable to obtain an electronic passport or a U.S. visa.

-- CBP also intends to exercise discretion with respect to any fines levied on air carriers for boarding travelers with non-electronic emergency or temporary passports.  Guidance to this effect has already been sent to the air carriers by CBP.

-- Emergency or temporary passports that are e-passports will not be affected.

-- Any passport -- emergency, temporary, or regular -- issued before October 26, 2006, by a country that had joined the VWP before 2008 must meet the VWP passport requirements in place at the time the passport was issued.  Those requirements are not affected by this change.  See or for the requirements.

-- Travelers already in the United States on July 1, 2009, on a non-electronic emergency or temporary passport will not face any difficulties departing the country.

3.  Please contact [redacted] CA/FO/F/P, if you have further questions.