Blocked e-passports for US travel finally ready

14th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 13, 2006 (AFP) - France is to issue its first electronic passports Friday, ending a months-long dispute that has caused a bottleneck for citizens travelling to the United States, the interior ministry said.

PARIS, April 13, 2006 (AFP) - France is to issue its first electronic passports Friday, ending a months-long dispute that has caused a bottleneck for citizens travelling to the United States, the interior ministry said.

Initially available in the Hauts-de-Seine department west of Paris, the passports will be rolled out across the country by the end of June — ahead of a European Union deadline of August 28.

Under new US rules, visitors from 27 mainly European countries need to have biometric data encoded in a microchip in their passport, if it was issued after October 2005, to continue to enjoy visa-free travel to the country.

A French delay in producing the new documents — caused by a labour dispute at the state printing firm — had caused a visa logjam for thousands of French travellers heading to the United States.

Interior ministry secretary general Daniel Canepa said the first electronic passports would include a microchip with personal data and a digital photograph of the bearer.

Full biometric passports, also including a digital fingerprint, are to be introduced from 2009.

France's roll-out of e-passports was held up because of a dispute sparked by the interior ministry's decision to ask a private company to produce the new documents instead of the state printing firm.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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