U.S. easing off on European e-passports

The United States is set to shelve a demand that European visitors to the country carry biometric passports, according to a report.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor
The United States reportedly looks set to ditch its demand that EU visitors to the country have biometric passports by this October.

According to a report Thursday in the Financial Times, U.S. and European officials said the plans are set to be shelved in order to prevent disruption in transatlantic travel and to prevent travelers from being put off visiting the United States as a result.

European Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini recently warned the United States that the mandate's deadline, which covers countries within the European Union, is unlikely to be met.

Only six EU countries--Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg and Sweden--look set to be ready in October. The EU has been calling for a 12-month extension to the deadline, which has already been set back a year from its original date.

The legislation requiring biometric passports entered U.S. statute books in 2002, and the U.K. recently revealed it expected to be able to introduce the "ePassport" in the first quarter of next year.

The Financial Times also reported that the U.S. is gearing up for a policy shift that will mean citizens of countries with passports using digital photos will be allowed to enter the country without a wavier, whereas those from countries with passports carrying laminated printed photos, such as France and Italy, would have to apply for a visa.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.

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