Rule calls for computer-readable passports

 - August 6, 2008, 5:44 AM

Beginning on October 1, the passports of foreign nationals visiting the U.S. from France, Germany, Italy, the UK and 23 other countries must be computer readable or the passport holder must obtain a U.S. visa before entry. Visitors with neither a visa nor a computer-readable passport run the risk of being refused entry, at the discretion of the checkpoint official. Many of the countries on the list are only just starting to issue computer-readable travel documents. But U.S. State Department officials insist that the rule is necessary to keep an accurate record of those entering and leaving the U.S. If that isn’t a sufficiently high hurdle, in October 2004 travelers to the U.S. must have passports with biometric identifier computer chips embedded in them.