The State Department has begun issuing a new type of passport book containing an embedded electronic chip and called an “Electronic Passport”. The new passport book continues to be proof of the bearer’s United States citizenship/nationality and identity, and looks and functions in the same way as a passport without a chip. The addition of an electronic chip in the back cover enables the new passport book to carry a duplicate electronic copy of all information from the data page. The new passport book is usable at all ports–of–entry, including those that do not yet have electronic chip readers.
Use of the electronic format provides the traveler the additional security protections inherent in chip technology. Moreover, when used at ports–of–entry equipped with electronic chip readers, the new passport book provides for faster clearance through some of the port–of–entry processes.
The new passport book does not require special handling or treatment, but like previous versions should be protected from extreme bending and from immersion in water. The electronic chip must be read using specially formatted readers, which protects the data on the chip from unauthorized reading.
The cover of the new passport book is printed with a special symbol representing the embedded chip.
U.S. Embassies and Consulates will achieve this goal by transferring the passport issuance function to a domestic U.S. passport facility. This will increase processing times at U.S. Embassies and Consulates, but the Department is committed to ensuring that American citizens receive secure documents in a timely manner. American citizens are encouraged to apply early for renewal of expiring passports.
If you have any questions regarding the above procedures, please write to HelsinkiACS@state.gov or American Embassy, Consular/ACS, Itäinen Puistotie 14 B, 00140 Helsinki, Finland. You may also call +358-40-140-5957 between 2.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with the exception of American and Finnish public holidays.
U.S. Passport Card Applications Accepted Beginning February 1, 2008
U.S. citizens may begin applying in advance for the new U.S. Passport Card beginning February 1, 2008, in anticipation of land border travel document requirements. We expect cards will be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008.
The passport card will facilitate entry and expedite document processing at U.S. land and sea ports-of-entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The card may not be used to travel by air. It will otherwise carry the rights and privileges of the U.S. passport book and will be adjudicated to the exact same standards.
The Department of State is issuing this passport card in response to the needs of border resident communities for a less expensive and more portable alternative to the traditional passport book. The card will have the same validity period as a passport book: 10 years for an adult, five for children 15 and younger. For adults who already have a passport book, they may apply for the card as a passport renewal and pay only $20. First-time applicants will pay $45 for adult cards and $35 for children.