Are Us Passports Biometric? Guide to The Us Passport

Are Us Passports Biometric?Guide to The Us Passport

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Imagine you’re preparing for an international trip. You’ve packed your bags, and your flight is booked, but have you considered the technology embedded in your passport? In this post, we’d be exploring the intersection of travel and technology in the context of US passports. Are they biometric?

Are Us Passports Biometric?

To give you a straight answer, yes, US passports are indeed biometric. Keep in mind this is different from a machine-readable passport.

But what does that exactly mean? Well, let’s dive a bit deeper.

Biometrics refers to the use of unique physical or behavioral characteristics to verify a person’s identity.

This can include fingerprints, facial features, eye retinas, or even voice patterns. In the context of passports, a biometric passport, also known as an e-passport, contains an electronic chip embedded in the document.

So what’s stored on this chip?

The significance of a biometric passports

Well, the chip holds the same data that’s printed on the passport’s data page – your name, date of birth, and other biographical information.

More importantly, it also contains your digital photo, which serves as a biometric identifier. This digital photo allows computers to use facial recognition technology to confirm that you are genuinely the passport holder.

In the U.S., the transition to biometric passports started back in 2007, and it has now become the standard.

But why the switch to biometric passports?

The answer lies in the extra layer of security these passports provide. The embedded chip makes it more difficult for anyone to tamper with or counterfeit the passport.

Additionally, the facial recognition technology provides a swift and reliable way to verify a traveler’s identity.

However, it’s important to note that the use of biometric data doesn’t end with passports, but is widely used, from unlocking your smartphone to accessing secured buildings.

Can you use a Non-Biometric Passport in the US?

First off, it’s important to understand that the acceptance of non-biometric passports is subject to changes in international travel regulations and the specific policies of the country in question.

In this case, we’re focusing on the United States.

Currently, even though non-biometric passports can still be used, the US does accept non-biometric passports, but there are certain conditions that apply.

For instance, if you’re traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you’re required to have an e-passport to enter the US. The VWP allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less.

However, if you’re not eligible for the VWP or if you’re traveling with a visa, a non-biometric passport can still be used.

This, of course, also depends on the passport being valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure from the US.

How to get a Biometric Passport in the US

Continuing our discussion on biometric passports, what if you don’t have a biometric passport and you intend to get one?

First, you want to be sure that you’re not actually having a biometric passport, before moving on, as biometric passports are the norm in the US as in many other countries.

Next, gather all the necessary documents.

You’ll need proof of US citizenship, which can be your birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship, or a naturalization certificate.

A valid photo ID would also be needed – this could be a driver’s license, a military ID, or a government employee ID. If you have an old passport, that works as well!

In addition to these documents, you should have a passport photo.

It’s critical that this photo meets the specific requirements outlined by the US Department of State. This photo serves as your biometric identifier, so it’s important that it’s a clear and accurate representation of you.

Once you have all your documents and your photo ready, fill out Form DS-11: Application for a US Passport.

This form can be found online on the US Department of State’s website. Remember, don’t sign the form until instructed to do so by an acceptance agent.

After filling out the form, the final step is to submit your application, your documents, your photo, and the application fee at a passport application acceptance facility.

These facilities include many post offices, public libraries, and other government offices. You can find the nearest facility on the US Department of State’s website.

And that’s about it! The process usually takes around 6-8 weeks, but there are expedited services available if you need your passport sooner.


To wrap up, whether you’re curious about the technology behind your passport or preparing for a trip, we hope we’ve been cover the basics of the US travelling system and their stand on biometric passports.

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