Tue, Oct 09, 2012 - Page 5 News List

E-passport needed to be eligible for visa-free scheme

Staff writer, with CNA

There may be excitement among Republic of China (ROC) passport holders about being able to travel to the US visa-free, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reminded them that they will need the right kind of passport to take advantage of the privilege.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs said those hoping to use the service must have an e-passport with their national identification number printed in it to be eligible for the visa-waiver program. Older passports will not work, the bureau said.

MACHINE-READABLE

The e-passports are machine-readable and feature an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)-compliant chip, the bureau said.

About 5 million ICAO-compliant passports have been issued by the ministry since the e-passport project was introduced in 2008, accounting for 46.09 percent of all ROC passports in circulation, and these documents are valid for the visa-waiver scheme.

However, the approximately 60,000 ROC passports that do not carry a national ID number because their holders are not registered as permanent residents of the country will not qualify the holder for the visa-waiver scheme, bureau director-general Thomas Chen said.

EXEMPTIONS

Another bureau official added that most countries that grant Taiwan visa exemptions or landing visas on arrival to people with Taiwanese passports require them to have their ID numbers printed in their passports.

Taiwan’s admission to the visa-waiver program was announced on Tuesday last week. Under the program, which takes effect on Nov. 1, eligible Taiwanese passport holders are to be granted visa-free stays of up to 90 days in the US.

The visa-free treatment is to replace B-1 and B-2 visas given for short-term visits to the US for business or pleasure. About 100,000 Taiwanese visit the US on the two visas every year.

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