30 Jun Important Rule for Irish passport-holders Travelling to US
If you’re jetting off to the United States this summer there is an important rule that Irish passport-holders need to be aware of.
As of 01 April 2016, all Irish passport-holders who travel to the United States via the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must have a valid electronic passport. An electronic passport contains a chip, which holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page, like your name and date of birth. It also contains a biometric identifier which recognises your distinctive characteristics.
The rule applies even to passport holders who have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).
What if I don’t have a valid electronic passport?
You’re still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid non-immigrant visa issued by the U.S. embassy or consulate; travellers must appear for an interview in the U.S. Embassy beforehand to obtain one of these. If a holiday isn’t on the cards, the U.S. Embassy advise that you still pay the non-immigrant visa application fee, fill out the DS-160 non-immigrant visa application form and schedule a visa appointment. If you have a holiday planned and your situation is a little more urgent, you can request an expedited visa appointment.
How do I apply for ESTA?
Those travelling to the US can apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) on the official U.S. government website here. The charge is $14.00 U.S. dollars for any authorized application and $4.00 for any application that is not authorized.