What is a e-Passport?
As the name suggests, e-Passports are very similar to traditional passports with one major exception: they contain an electronic chip imprinted inside. Conceptually, the chip serves the same purpose as chip-based credit cards – they securely store information that can then be transmitted during use. In the case of an e-Passport, the chip contains the passport holder’s name, their date of birth and other biometric identification that can be used to help make travel in and out of the United States as safe and as secure as possible.
In addition to the aforementioned information, e-Passport chips also contain both a biometric identifier and a digital photograph of the passport holder. Also included are a number of state-of-the-art security features designed to help prevent someone from reading the information in an authorized way or making an illegal copy.
How to Get an e-Passport
As of 2016, there are two major requirements for someone who wishes to get an e-Passport of their own. They must be entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, and they must have a passport that was issued on or after October 26 of 2006.
Using an e-Passport
When someone enters the United States with an electronic passport, the process they’ll go through is actually very similar to someone entering with a traditional passport. The only difference is that they will be directed to a specialized booth to use to scan the chip, which will transmit the associated information to the United States Customs and Border Protection agent on duty.
The Major Benefits of an e-Passport
The major benefit of an e-Passport is one of security, but many of these advantages also extend to the user by way of convenience as well. For starters, an electronic passport helps to securely identify the traveler in a way that also provides advanced protection against identity theft. Even if someone were to steal your passport on your trip, they wouldn’t be able to alter the information contained on the chip or make a duplicate copy in any way.
At the same time, it also helps to protect a traveler’s privacy. If a traditional passport is stolen, the thief can see every piece of personal information printed inside. This is not the case with an electronic passport.
e-Passports and International Partners
Currently, both the United States and all major partners of the Visa Waiver Program accept e-Passports. In fact, the technology was created in cooperation with all of these countries and was tested thoroughly both in the US and overseas in an effort to enhance security and to help make legitimate travel, trade and more easier than at any point prior in human history.