Lonely Planet Writer

Irish passport-holders face new Visa Waiver Programme regulations on US trips

Irish passport-holders travelling to the US face changes to the Visa Waiver Programme from 1 April.

Irish passport holders are stranded in Egypt amid terrorism fears.
Irish passengers with traditional passport face new rules to enter US from April 1 Image by Lonely Planet

The new requirements mean that those who travel from Ireland  on the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) must have an up-to-date electronic passport.

New Irish passport card carry a biometric chip which the traditional passport doesn't have
New Irish passports card carry a biometric chip which the traditional passport doesn’t have Image by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade/PA Wire

It also applies to those with passports who have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

The Irish Independent reports the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are estimating that about 170,000 Irish passport holders have traditional documents.

Those official travel papers were issued in 2006 from 30 March  to 16 October and have not been replaced.

The first e-passports came on stream at that time and while the older varieties are still machine-readable, unlike the new passports, they don’t have a biometric chip.

Passengers can still travel to the US without valid electronic passports, but not on the VWP.

Such travellers will require non-immigration visas which are issued either in US embassies or consulates.

They must also attend there for interviews and then get the visa in their passports before their journey across the Atlantic.

See dublin.usembassy.gov for full details.