Millions of Britons could be forced to buy new passports to travel to the U.S. from next year due to proposed new security measures in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks.
The White House is working with the U.S. Congress on plans to require visitors travelling from countries included in its visa waiver programme, including those from the U.K., to use passports with embedded security chips.
If the proposal goes ahead, British passport holders with older passports without chips would have to renew their passports, at a cost of at least £72.50 each, if they want to travel to the States.
According to the Telegraph, an estimated five million of Britain’s 50 million passport holders have older documents without a biometric microchip. Most of these have about a year left to run, said the newspaper.
The Department for Homeland Security and the State Department in the U.S. are to review the visa waiver programme and report back to the president within 60 days.
Their proposals include accelerating the requirement for 100 per cent of visa waiver programme travellers to have e-passports.
The U.S. is aiming to strengthen the visa waiver programme and make sure it can gather information on foreign visitors who might have visited countries offering a safe haven to terrorists.
A White House spokesman said the administration would ‘enhance and accelerate’ changes to the visa waiver programme due to the ‘ongoing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters’.
It has already announced plans to expand its pre-clearance programme to more foreign airports, including possibly Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.
While that will mean travellers from the UK will be able to avoid long immigration queues on arrival in the U.S., it will also allow U.S. officials to screen them before they can board flights to the States.