U.S. extends deadline for biometric passports

 The U.S. has said it will allow 27 (mainly European) countries participating in a special visa waiver scheme more time to introduce biometric data in passports.

The countries in the scheme have until 26 October 2006 to use biometric passports for U.S. entry, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff has said.

Most countries in the E.U. are affected by the new rules, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore.

The U.S. had said passports needed to be fully biometric by October this year  2005, but the Department of Homeland Security has said in a statement that it would impose a 26 October 2006 deadline for the integrated circuit chip or e-passport.

Countries in the US waiver programme are Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Contact:Howard Snaith