In the United States we debate everything except homeland security. We debate the color of the sky, god, education, guns and the Kardashians to no end, but when it comes to keeping terrorists out we just act. Rightfully so I guess. Allow me to be among the first to tell you that you will soon no longer be able to enter the United States without an electronic passport. Forget autographs, they want your fingerprints, known tattoos, retina scans and facial recognition. It’s a crazy world out there.

a close-up of a man's face

If you’ve been to the United States you likely know what an ESTA is. Citizens of thirty eight countries, including most of Europe, are allowed to enter the United States visa free for up to ninety days provided they have an ESTA. The simple online form has allowed for seamless travel and trade between the United States and European Union countries, but all good things must come to an end or rather, an amendment. There’s growing fear about ISIS recruitment and indoctrination across Europe and as such the United States is now demanding that all ESTA participating countries require electronic passports and additional intelligence for all citizens wishing to enter the United States. Yes, though there is no specific date set for the changes you should try to snag an electronic passport at your earliest convenience to prevent hassle in the future. No stress, just good planning. In addition to the new requirement, participating countries are forced to accommodate increased air marshal traffic, offer increased intelligence data sharing from sources such as INTERPOL’s lost passport database as well as all other pertinent threat information. How have they not been doing this already? Have you seen the Bourne Identity?! Get on it!

a crowd of people in an airport

Unlike many proposals and changes these are rather simple. Most newly issued passports are automatically issued as electronic and even in a country as bureaucratic as the United States, renewing passports is fairly easy. Before I go, remember drunk passengers, with the increased alert status and air marshall traffic, getting duct taped to your seat is better than getting shot. Keep your sh*t together and handle your drinks. You don’t want to be put on the Homeland Security and INTERPOL database as a suspected terrorist for trying to pull your pants down.

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Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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