Fingerprinting for US expats moving to Belgium
31 August 2006, BRUSSELS — Belgium has launched a trial project which will eventually make it compulsory for all US nationals to give their fingerprints if they wish to obtain a visa to enter Belgium.
31 August 2006
BRUSSELS — Belgium has launched a trial project which will eventually make it compulsory for all US nationals to give their fingerprints if they wish to obtain a visa to enter Belgium.
A trial project is being staged at the Belgian embassy in Washington and two African nations. Eventually, a fingerprint might become compulsory for all non-EU nationals.
Foreigners who want to travel to Belgium from Washington, Kinshasa and Lubumbashi (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Bamako (Mali) will need to give their fingerprints to embassies and consulates.
The same measure will apply for all Belgians who wish to travel to the US, newspaper 'De Morgen' reported on Thursday.
But amid concern that all US nationals are now required to give a fingerprint, a Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the requirement will only apply to US nationals who need a visa to enter Belgium and who apply for that visa in Washington.
"A visa is only compulsory for Americans who wish to settle in Belgium for a longer period of time and that is less than 1 percent of the Americans who travel to Belgium," spokesman Rudy Huygelen said.
"The fingerprint is thus not compulsory for all American tourists".
Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said the fingerprinting regulation was considered necessary for effective border security checks.
Belgium is working in closely with France during the trial project as Brussels and Paris exchange fingerprint data. Zaventem Airport in Brussels has machines to read fingerprints and Charles de Gaulle in Paris will soon have the same.
The principle is that on arrival, a passenger's fingerprint on the visa will be compared with the print registered at the embassy. That prevents people swapping visas, a common form of visa fraud.
Belgium will expand the experiment to 20 nations at the end of this year. Eight EU nations will then be involved in the project. Belgium will retain a leading role.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news