Thursday, January 08, 2004

The War on Tourism Continues

This is really getting silly:

Currently British travellers can visit the US for up to three months without a visa under the "visa waiver" scheme.

But new passports issued after 26October must hold "biometric" data such as digital images or fingerprints - or a visa will be needed.

The UK authorities will not be able to issue such passports before mid-2005.

British travellers holding a "machine-readable" passport - issued in Britain since November 1991 - can still travel to the US without a visa for the 10-year lifetime of their document.

They will then have their fingerprints and photographs taken on arrival in the US.

But those who get a new passport after October 26, but before biometric ones are available, will have to purchase a visa at a cost of £67.

More than four million Britons a year travel to the US, and hundreds of thousands of them would be affected by the arrangements as they currently stand.