EPassport: All you need to know about the biometric passport

All you need to know about the biometric passport for your USA travel

If you want to travel to the USA, you not only need a visa or ESTA but also a valid passport that proves your identity. Without one, you won’t be allowed to enter the country or cross the borders of most countries.

That is reason enough to take a closer look at the important travel document and learn some interesting facts about it.


What is a biometric passport?

The biometric passport, which is also called ePassport or digital passport, is just like a traditional passport. But on top of the basic personal information, it also has an electronic microprocessor chip embedded, which contains the biometric information of the passport owner.

Traditional text information

Additional biometric information

ID number


Full name

Biometric photo


Iris pattern (used in some countries)

Date of birth


Place of birth






Issuing country



The idea behind the new facial and fingerprint recognition (and in some countries iris recognition) is to authenticate the identity of a person and thus, to improve the security of national borders.

Biometric passports are around since the late 1990s. As of June 2017, more than 120 countries worldwide are issuing these new digital passports instead of the traditional ones.


Advantages of a biometric passport

The new biometric passport has advantages for both the holder of it and country he or she is traveling to:

  • Authentication free of doubt
  • Automated passport control at ePassport gates without needing a border force officer
  • Increased level of security and privacy, e.g. complex watermarks or intricately designed pages
  • Decreased chances of fraud

How do I know that I have an ePassport?

The easiest way to identify a biometric passport is by looking at the front cover. If you can see the following symbol, it is an ePassport.

EPassport symbol2

This signet for biometric passports can either be printed or embossed on the front page.

How do I use my ePassport at the border?

Instead of heading to the counters with border control officers, the holder of an ePassport can go straight to the automatic border control gates and do the passport check on his own. Here are the steps:

  1. You place your biometric passport on the scanner. It will now read your information from the integrated chip and the traditional text information. The data is compared to the saved data on the server.
  2. If the data is authenticated, you need to look into the camera to get a photo of your face taken. The system compares your face with the photo on the integrated chip.
  3. If the photo is authenticated, the border control door opens and you can exit.

How do I get an ePassport?

Most countries in the world are issuing ePassports only nowadays. That means you have to go to your local office in charge, for instance in Germany it is the residents’ registration office, and apply for a passport.

Since the process varies greatly from one country to another, please contact the responsible office directly and ask for topics like:

  • Costs of an ePassport
  • Processing time of an ePassport
  • Validity of an ePassport

How do I get an ePassport if I am in the USA?

If you live in the USA, for example because you study or work there, but have a foreign nationality, you can also apply for a passport. To do so, you have to go to the respective consulate of your home country near you and apply for a new passport.

Please note: The consulates of some countries will require you to show proof that you are not officially registered in your home country anymore. Check what documents you need to bring to apply for a new travel document.

Traveling to the USA with an ePassport

If you want to travel to the USA, you need a valid visa or an ESTA to be allowed to enter the country. But what about your passport? Learn more about the required travel document for entries to the USA. 


Do I need an ePassport to get ESTA?

If you want to enter the USA without a visa but want to use ESTA, you need to have an ePassport. So make sure that you have organized both, an ePassport and a valid ESTA, before you go to the airport to travel to the USA.


Do my children need an ePassport to get ESTA, too?

If you want to enter the USA with your minor children, they need to have their own ESTA, regardless of age and regardless if accompanied or unaccompanied. That also means your children need their own ePassport. A children’s passport, such as used in countries like Germany, is not eligible to use ESTA.

Only if the child is entering the USA with a valid visa, it can use a children’s passport and does not need an ePassport.


US visa and ESTA service

If you have any questions regarding a US visa or ESTA or need any help with your application, we are happy to assist you!

Contact us!


What is the required passport validity for traveling to the USA?

The general rule is that passports have to be valid for at least six months after your planned exit of the USA. For instance, if you enter the USA on July 1, 2019, and want to stay one month, your passport must not expire before February 1, 2020.

However, there are certain countries that belong to the so called Six-Month Club. These countries are exempt from the rule. Their passports only need to stay valid for their intended travel period. For instance, if you enter the USA on July 1, 2019 and want to stay for one month, your passport needs to be valid at least until August, 1, 2019.

You can find all countries of the Six-Month Club listed in the linked document.  

Valid US visa in an expired passport

Every non-immigrant US visa has an expiry date, which means that the visa is valid until that date. This is also the case if your passport expired before that visa expiry date. That means, if you have to renew your passport, your visa will stay valid.

However, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You need to show your new and old (expired) passport at the border.
  • The US visa needs to stay undamaged after your old passport was invalidated by your local authorities.
  • The US visa needs to stay in your old passport to stay valid.
  • Your nationality needs to stay the same in both passports. In case you have a new citizenship, your US visa becomes invalid.
  • The reason for your USA visit must stay the same. For instance, if you have a student visa, you have to (continue) studying in the USA.

In case your name changes, e.g. after a wedding or divorce, you usually do not need a new visa. But make sure to bring proof, e.g. marriage certificate, when entering the USA.

What do I do if I lose my passport?

In case you lose your passport or your passport gets stolen, you should follow these steps:

1. Report to the Police

Contact your local police department and inform them about the incident. In many countries you need to show a copy of the police report when applying for a new passport. So make sure you get one.

2. Report to the US consulate

If you had a valid visa in your passport, you also need to report the loss to a US consulate near you. In many countries, this can be done via e-mail. Your message should include the following details:

  • Full name
  • Date and place of birth
  • How you have lost your visa (theft, loss, etc.)
  • Copy of your passport or visa if you have

3. Apply for a new passport

Contact the US consulate in charge and apply for a new passport and, if needed, a new visa.


Extra Tip: To be not left without any type of identification, we recommend taking a copy of your passport and, if you have, your visa. This can help you to identify yourself and to get a new ID in case you lose your passport

What do I do if I lose my passport in the USA?

In case you are a foreigner and lose your passport while being in the USA, there are certain processes you have to follow.


Do I need to leave the USA after I have lost my passport?

In most cases, you do not need to leave the USA immediately after you have lost your passport. However, you need to file a I-94 form, which is proof of your lawful entry.

It also shows how long you are legally allowed to stay in the USA. That is why you must bring it with you everywhere you go until you leave the USA.

Please note that once you have left the USA, you will need a new ESTA or visa if you want to enter again.


How do I apply for a new passport in the USA?

If you stay in the USA for a longer period of time, e.g. because you are working or studying there, you may also be able to apply for a new passport in the USA. Please contact the consulate of your home country and ask for the requirements and process.

Please note that once you have left the USA, you will need a new ESTA or visa if you want to enter again.


I have found my passport after I have reported it missing. Can I use it again?

Once you have reported your passport to be lost, this report cannot be withdrawn. Consequently, your old passport cannot be used again to enter the USA.

You must re-apply for all visa, that were reported to be lost in the passport. That also means you need to schedule a new interview appointment for your visa once you have received your new passport and bring all required documents with you.

The same goes for a lost or stolen passport, that included an ESTA. If you have reported that loss to a police department or consulate, that ESTA becomes invalid. Even if you find your passport again, you will have to apply for a new ESTA.

Need help?No matter if you need a new visa or a new ESTA, we are happy to help you with the application process. Please feel free to contact us anytime!


Updated on 27.7.2022

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