A coding problem with Bermudian passports is to blame for “distress and disruption” experienced by some travellers, the national security minister said yesterday.
Wayne Caines said that he was aware that some Bermudian BOTC passport-holders had experienced “additional questioning or delays” at some borders.
He added that the problem was not as a result of changes with the United States Customs and Border Protection procedures or US immigration law.
Mr Caines explained: “The problem has arisen from the electronic coding of Bermuda BOTC passports, which for security reasons are now issued from the UK.
“Despite guidance issued by the International Air Transport Association confirming that Bermudian BOTC passport holders remain eligible for visa-free travel to the US, difficulties continue to be encountered with some airlines and airline agents.”
He said that a joint working group with the Passport Office in Britain had been created to try to fix the problem.
Mr Caines said: “It is clear that the current situation has caused distress and disruption in a number of cases and Government House is in close touch with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on this matter.”
He added that his ministry “has given resolving this matter urgent priority”.
A document which explains the US visa exemptions for Bermuda can be found on the US Consulate website.
Mr Caines advised all Bermudian passport holders to visit the website to print a copy of the exemption to carry with their passport “until a solution is found”.
He warned: “Please be mindful that presenting the card does not guarantee action by an airline representative or immigration official.
“Travellers have still experienced difficulties, including being denied boarding and/or missing flights, even after presenting this document.”
Mr Caines said that another option for Bermudian passport holders was to consider applying for a US visa.
Instructions on how to obtain the visa can be found on the US Consulate’s website.