Biometric passport issue

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Biometric passport issue

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1. Posted by Sunshine86 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

Hello all,

I have a (presumably rare) query and wondered if anyone might be able to help. In 2006 I travelled to America (New York) for just under a week with my mother for a girls holiday. Upon landing in JFK we went through security etc as normal, and went through the biometric part where you have to eye scanned and your finger prints (I can’t remember if there was anything else, as it was so long ago). I do remember the eye scan and fingerprints as I had never had to so it before. However as we walked out of the airport (having gone through successfully) my mother realised that she was holding my passport and I was holding hers, meaning that we must have passed through the biometric prt with each other’s passports. We didn’t really think much of it at the time as we were in a hurry, and haven’t travelled to the US since. However, as I am due to travel there once the covid crisis is over, this issue is causing me some concern.

Will I have trouble going through the biometrics part when I land? Will my eye and fingerprints be on my mother’s passport instead of mine? I know it sounds far fetched but my mother definitely remembers having the wrong passport. We haven’t had any trouble flying anywhere else, although I don’t know if America would share their biometric data anyway?

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2026 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

The US have a service to deal with problems like this, see https://www.dhs.gov/dhs-trip

The service does seem to focus on problems travellers are having on an on-going basis.

As it was over 10 years ago you'll have a new passport now, with a new passport number (on the assumption that you're British?). I wonder if that means on entry you'll get an entirely new record anyway.

3. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1340 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

>although I don’t know if America would share their biometric data anyway?

For obvious reasons that sort of information is not in the public domain though there is no doubt that data and biometrics can be shared between countries if there is a criminal aspect. The US and Canada share that sort of information as a norm.

> I wonder if that means on entry you'll get an entirely new record anyway.

That's a very good question though not one I can answer (I travel to the US quite a lot, including with a new passport). Eyes/photograph and fingerprints are taken on each entry and, obviously, one needs a new ESTA with a new passport even if the existing ESTA is still valid.

There is simply no way of knowing whether previous biometrics are linked with new passport details but I'd note that I was only asked if it was my first visit on my first visit (with the old passport). I've never been asked that question since, not even when I got a new passport and that does suggest they can link old passport details with new ones. The other standard entry questions I'm asked (why am I visiting, where am I going etc) have remained the same.

>Will I have trouble going through the biometrics part when I land?

If you are absolutely sure your mother's biometrics are linked with your passport then problems are certainly possible.

One option is to either see if the link Andy provided can help or (assuming you're a UK citizen) to contact the US Embassy in the London directly once this crisis has abated. There's no point in contacting them now: apart from the fact that UK citizens can't enter the US at the moment the embassy is only dealing with emergencies.

An alternative might be to apply for a US visa. It'll cost you more than an ESTA but you'll be able to explain what you think happened ...and thus why you're applying for a visa...at the face-to-face interview. If there is a problem US border staff should be able to sort it out. But, again, there's no point in applying at the moment.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Apr-2020, 09:00 GMT by leics2 ]

4. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1391 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

Are you sure that you passed through the scanners with each others' passports, that you didn't somehow mismatch them afterward since you were in a hurry?

Passports with biometric data contain information about you. See these links:

https://www.osce.org/magazine/416453

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biometric_passport

https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/post-911-policies-dramatically-alter-us-immigration-landscape

I'm a U.S. citizen and use the automated biometric Global Entry system. I insert my passport into a Global Entry kiosk, it scans my fingerprints, takes my photo and generates a receipt with that photo. Upon exiting immigration and customs my facial identity always is checked via passport and the receipt. That said, the entry procedure might have been different in 2006. But many countries, including the United States, imposed stricter entry requirements after Sept. 11, 2001.

5. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1340 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

The 'Global Entry' kiosks to which you refer only exist in airports outside the US which have pre-clearance facilities (e.g. Dublin, Shannon, Toronto) and aren't, as far as I'm aware, available for non-citizens to use on arrival at US airports.

I've used them once or twice at Dublin airport but they're only in use when the numbers passing through US border control are very high. They're not available at other times.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Apr-2020, 11:36 GMT by leics2 ]

6. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1391 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

I was using my Global Entry example to show that even if they used each others' passports by mistake that it would likely have been caught. It was not to suggest that they could use Global Entry. However, please refer to this:

https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry

Please also note this from U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the expansion of the Global Entry program to include certain foreign nationals:

"U.S. citizens, U.S nationals and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents may apply for Global Entry as well as citizens of certain countries with which CBP has trusted traveler arrangements, including Argentina, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Canadian citizens and residents enrolled in NEXUS may also use the Global Entry kiosks. Interested travelers apply through the Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) website.

"The non-refundable application fee for a five-year Global Entry membership is $100 and applications must be submitted online. Once the applicant successfully passes a background check, a CBP officer will conduct an interview with the applicant at one of the more than 100 Global Entry Enrollment Centers located throughout the U.S., Canada, and Qatar, or at an Enrollment on Arrival location and then make a final eligibility determination.

"While the goal of Global Entry is to speed travelers through the process, members may be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in appropriate enforcement action and revocation of the traveler’s membership privileges."

7. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1340 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

I see. I misunderstood your point because, as I said, machines are in use at US pre-clearance airports such as Dublin, providing a printout which you hand to the officer with your passport. So I assumed you meant those.

I'm not sure if the machines I've encountered also have a Global Entry function.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Apr-2020, 12:58 GMT by leics2 ]

8. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1391 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

Yes, there are Global Entry kiosks at the Dublin airport. Here is the full list:

https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry/locations

9. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1340 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

They must be the same machines I used because they are the only machines in the pre-clearance area.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Apr-2020, 17:01 GMT by leics2 ]

10. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1391 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

For U.S. citizens and others eligible I recommend enrolling in Global Entry. It saves considerable time going through immigration and customs. It usually takes a minute or so to go through the kiosk procedure. You then enter a special line to verify who you are (the agent checks the kiosk receipt against the passport). There might be a question or two, then you exit. Even if you're selected to undergo one of those random more-thorough checks the process is abbreviated, in my experience.

I travel overseas at least six months each year; and both my U.S. passports are registered with Global Entry. The $100 fee covers both documents (one passport is valid for four years, the other for 10 years). Some U.S. credit cards pay the $100 fee once every four or five years as part of a package of complimentary benefits.

One more thing: Global Entry includes TSA Precheck (no need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts and light jackets). See this link:

https://www.tsa.gov/travel/frequently-asked-questions/what-difference-between-global-entry-tsa-precheck-and-other-trusted

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Apr-2020, 17:31 GMT by berner256 ]