The British Consulate is advising families to check their travel documents validity before travelling this half term especially if you are travelling to North America. In April this year the US goverment, under some new anti terror regulations brought in the strict need to have an electronic passport.
These are the rules according to the US customs and Border Protection:
as of April 1, 2016, you must have an e-passport to use the VWP. An e-Passport is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. You can readily identify an e-Passport, because it has a unique international symbol on the cover.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets.
Additionally Canada has also introduced a new rules from September:
Entry rules into Canada has changed for visitors from “visa-exempt” countries. They will be in full effect after September 30, 2016.
New rule does not apply to Canadian or USA citizens, and travellers with a valid Canadian visa.
If this applies to you, please remember to check and apply, before you travel to Canada, and based on the passport that you plan to travel with, as per
“The rules are part of Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), established in 2011 to facilitate travel between the U.S. and Canada. A result of the eTA was an effort to more closely scrutinize foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries.
Visit the Government of Canada website here to determine if an eTA is needed and/or to apply through an online process. Please note, a passport, credit card, and email address are necessary to apply.”
It is always a good idea to make sure you have the right documentation for your destination and so don’t be caught out this half term.