[Edit] Note that this is not a duplicate question. The law was changed on the 1st of April 2016:

Additionally, from 1 April 2016, all travellers wishing to enter the US under the VWP will need to hold a passport with an integrated chip (an ePassport).

I have an ePassport, but I'm not sure if the chip in it still works as the automated check in machines by Aer Lingus at Dublin Airport were unable to read my passport. The automated passport machines on arrival at Dusseldorf Airport seemed to work (although I have no idea if those machines literally just take a visual scan of the passport or read the (possibly broken) chip in my passport).

Just in case the chip in my passport is indeed broken, what would happen at a US port of entry under the new rules effective from April 1st 2016?

Would I be denied entry or just scrutinized more?

Is there a way to check if the chip still works?

  • They don't actually say that the chip must be working, just that the passport needs one. I think this question is a duplicate as I remember discussing the topic recently. I doubt you'd even attract much additional scrutiny.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 21:10
  • 4
    @Willeke Nonetheless, we should be encouraging new answers to that question, not splitting up the content and expecting people to realise that the answers to one question are up-to-date and those to another question aren't. Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 7:59
  • @DavidRicherby That is why I mention it here. (I have not closed voted this Q but that is because the isue is not solved yet.)
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 8:14
  • The kiosks in the US currently scan the data page, but my understanding is that they will soon attempt to also read the chip (if they don't already do). They will continue to scan the data page, though, because decoding the chip requires information from the data page. If your passport can't be read, you'll be directed back to a human being. Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 19:40
  • 1
    @Crazydre Yes, I'm aware of that. Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


My passport which is an EU one and has got the chip, but it has never worked yet. When landing in UK I still always choose the ePassport gate regardless. It takes about 2 minutes for the gate to realise that it can not read my passport, then person responsible for overseeing the gates will direct me to see the border control officer who will scan and examine the passport himself/herself. This is still faster than waiting in the line of people without the ePassport even though I always get rejected.

The regulation for the VWP is that you have a passport with a chip, not that it works. Chip could have broken on the air plane by cosmic radiation or other freak accident, yet people on the ground are still be able to verify who you are. Chip is just for your convenience and also employing less people at the airport and opting for gates instead, it is by far not your last verification resource.

Also I have travelled to US on VWP with that passport without any problems.

  • Did you use the kiosks when you entered the US? Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 20:11
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    Another reason for not requiring the chip to work: Very few people are in a position to know whether the chip works.
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 7:03

The USA only started to install software to read chip data in the APC kiosks at select airports a few months ago, and first equipped CBP officers' desks with similar software even fewer months ago at JFK (see this article/press release), so it might be a little early to have heard what happens when the passport chip doesn't work or the facial recognition finds a mismatch. I think it is a fairly safe bet that a failure of the process will likely just signal the human you are or will be talking with to look harder at you and your travel document than they might have otherwise.

If they were going to deny you entry for a non-working chip they would be telling the airlines that to give them a chance to deny you boarding for the same reason and avoid having to fly you home.

The Global Entry kiosks allow entry without talking to a human and they accept a variety of documents including chip and no-chip passports, green cards and sometimes NEXUS cards. Since they make no use of biometrics stored in the travel document (only the chip passport has any) but instead securely identify the person offering the document by comparing to centrally-stored fingerprints, they have even fewer reasons to be concerned about a not-working chip.

I in fact tried that experiment on my last entry using a GE kiosk by leaving the back cover of my passport, where I believe the chip is, inside the foil envelope I carry the passport in. The machine didn't notice.

If you want to test your chip yourself you might look for NFC tag reader software for your smart phone. I've used this app and tried others. If you can read the chip that way you can be sure it is working, though a failure to read it may be telling you as much about your phone's crappy NFC hardware as it is about the chip. Note the weak bit of NFC isn't the chip itself but the physically large loop of fine wire or foil it needs as an antenna to pick up enough energy to power the chip. While this seems pretty reliable when embedded in hard plastic, as in a credit or transit card, it may not work as well in a bendable cover of a passport.

  • 2
    I have a Danish passport, and the chip is embedded in a roughly 2 mm thick piece of plastic in the front which also serves as the identity page.
    – Guan Yang
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 15:59

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