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I'm an Italian citizen living in Venezuela. The Italian consulate here in my city issues ePassports and claims that these are valid for entry to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program; however, I have noticed the passport does not have an electronic chip even though it does have the ePassport symbol on the cover. I have checked with fellow Italians who also got their passports there, and their passports don't have chips either.

I don't know if this is normal for a consulate, but I want to know if this could present any problems when attempting to enter the United States using this passport, before trying to get ESTA authorization.

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    How have you determined whether the passport has a chip or not? – Henning Makholm Aug 3 '17 at 17:43
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    I used software for passport scanning on a phone with NFC hardware. I'm aware that these chips are not visible in plain sight. I did this because I noticed the page with my data was soft, like the rest of the normal pages. Unlike my Venezuelan passport, in which the page with my data is hard which I assume is because it contains the chip and antenna. I scanned my Venezuelan passport with the software and it read the chip, but no success with the Italian passport. – Ítalo Luigi Aug 3 '17 at 19:33
  • Not sure about other countries, but in my US e-passport, the data page is normal paper (except for a glossy anti-tamper coating), and the chip is embedded in the passport's cover. Is it possible the chip is somewhere else? – Nate Eldredge Aug 3 '17 at 22:00
  • My phone will scan one of my passports, but it usually requires several attempts before it gets all the data. With my other passport, it's never been able to extract anything. As I understand it, the hardware used by passport inspectors is more powerful than a phone. – phoog Aug 3 '17 at 23:05
  • I was issued a emergency consulate passport a few years ago, and was warned to not keep it for long (e.g. it did not have a chip). In my last reentry in my home country with it, my wife, foreign was not stopped, I was stopped to determine if I was a national or carrying a fake passport – Rui F Ribeiro Aug 4 '17 at 6:40
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The electronic chip in an e-passport is read by radio waves (RFID). It is embedded in the cover or one of the pages, and it is not normally visible to the casual observer. In particular, there are no visible contact points as there are with credit cards that carry a chip.

As long as your passport bears the e-passport symbol, you can use it with the visa waiver program.

  • This is true. A British friend of mine who received a US visa was told at the embassy that it needed to be the new version of passports. It wasn't a requirement that the chip functioned. – myopicflight Aug 3 '17 at 18:08
  • Well all I'm interested in knowing is if the absence or malfunction (if that's the real case) of the chip would prevent me from entering. If the chip is not required to function, then I suppose I can rest assured. – Ítalo Luigi Aug 3 '17 at 19:34

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