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I am a British Citizen residing in Spain. I have a British passport which was processed in Madrid and therefore states 'Authority' FCO. Recently I have been told that having this on my passport will not allow me entry into America even though I have been approved with VWP through ESTA. Can anyone advise me if any of this is true please. My husband's passport was also processed in Madrid but his 'Authority' is IPS, however he did apply for his renewal 2 years after mine.

FCO: Foreign Commonwealth Office
IPS: Identity and Passport Service

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    Is your passport machine readable? – Karlson Jul 8 '15 at 14:15
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    What do "FCO" and "IPS" mean? – phoog Jul 8 '15 at 14:16
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    Who told you this anyway? – Calchas Jul 8 '15 at 14:52
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    @GayotFow I was intending to ask the OP why she/he thought passports issued by the FCO would not be accepted – Calchas Jul 8 '15 at 16:03
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    @Calchas, ah! Sorry, yes, no telling what the Americans will do. Probably somebody got removed and put their narrative on the net. – Gayot Fow Jul 8 '15 at 16:06
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To be valid for travel under the visa waiver program, a British passport must:

  1. Have a machine-readable zone on the biographic page.
  2. If issued on or after October 26, 2005, have a digital photo.
  3. If issued on or after October 26, 2006, be an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner.
  4. Entitle the holder to permanent right of abode in the UK, Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.

It does not matter which authority issued the passport, only that it conforms to these requirements.

Source: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/WebHelp/ESTA_Screen-Level_Online_Help_1.htm

  • In that case, America here we come ....thank you for all your help x – Tracey Jul 8 '15 at 14:30
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    I travelled to the US for many years on a British passport issued in Ottawa. – DJClayworth Jul 8 '15 at 14:47
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The requirement on the passport for VWP is:

What are the passport requirements for travel under the Visa Waiver Program?

Visa Waiver Program requirements are:

The passport must have a machine-readable zone on the biographic page.

  • Issued on or after October 26, 2005 – Each Visa Waiver Program passport issued on or after this date must have a digital photo.

  • Issued on or after October 26, 2006 – Each Visa Waiver Program passport issued on or after this date must be an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner.

EXCEPTION: To be eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, persons presenting United Kingdom passports must possess the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man

EXCEPTION: Citizens and nationals of Slovenia may use only the red cover Slovenian passport for admission under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

EXCEPTION: Effective July 1, 2009, Visa Waiver Program countries' emergency or temporary passports must be electronic passports.

Citizens of the following Visa Waiver Program countries are required to present electronic passports:

  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Slovakia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Republic of Malta
  • South Korea
  • Greece
  • Taiwan(1)
  • Chile

A machine readable passport contains two lines of text with numbers and chevrons (<<<) at the bottom of the personal information page with the passport bearer's picture. Document requirements vary according to the date a passport was issued or renewed as follows:

Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended before October 26, 2005 have no additional requirements.

If a passport was issued or renewed/extended on or after October 26, 2005 and does not meet the following requirements, the traveler must obtain a visa:

  1. Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended on or after October 26, 2005 through October 25, 2006 must meet the following requirements: A digital photograph printed on the passport data page is required OR an integrated chip containing information from the data page (e-passport). A digital photo is one that is printed on the page, not a photo that is glued or laminated into the passport.
  2. Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended on or after October 26, 2006 are required to be e-passports. For more information, please see the Customs and Border Protection Web site, CBP.gov, under Travel, For International Visitors, Visiting for Business or Pleasure, Visa Waiver Program. Taiwan passport holders must provide Passport Number and Personal Identification Number (PIN).

So if you meet the criteria for machine readability and the first mentioned EXCEPTION issuing authority won't really matter.

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