Passports issued as from the 01st October 2008 are all e-passports. These 1st generation electronic passports had a BAC (Basic Access Control) chip. Biometrics captured: photo & signature.
As from 01st July 2010, the e-passports’ chip was upgraded to EAC (Extended Access Control). Biometrics captured: photo, signature & fingerprints.
On 30th March 2015, the e-passports’ chip was upgraded to SAC (Supplemental Access Control). Same biometrics captured however the chip is the latest 3rd generation.
In November 2019, Malta launched the new polycarbonate passport with enhanced security. The data page is a polycarbonate card where all the identity details are laser engraved making it more difficult to forge.
Registration is done online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the VWP. A Travel Authorization is currently valid for two (2) years unless the passport expires earlier, in which case the expiry date and travel authorization validity date will be the same.
To apply for ESTA, Maltese citizens should visit the U.S. Embassy’s website (https://mt.usembassy.gov/), navigate to visas, click on learn more about ESTA – Visa waiver program and choose Apply for an ESTA authorisation. This will navigate the user to the ESTA application website, where applicants need to answer a set of questions.
Travellers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, including Malta, will be required to pay a fee of $14.00 when applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
The ESTA is not a visa and a person from a non-visa waiver country should not attempt to apply for ESTA. ESTA only pre-screens visa waiver travellers to allow them to travel to the US. An approved ESTA does not guarantee entry to the US, but it is a prerequisite to travel to the US by air or sea carrier. If the traveller does note bear an ESTA approval, then he/she will be instructed to apply for a visitor’s visa at the nearest US Embassy. Without an ESTA approval, travellers may experience delays and be denied boarding or refused entry at the US border control.
Travellers from a Visa Waiver Country who are not in possession of an e-passport but an older version, need to apply for a visitor’s visa in advance.
For further information, please visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/
- The biometric passport contains sensitive electronics. For best performance do not bend, perforate, or expose to extreme temperatures or excessive moisture.
- Extreme temperatures should be avoided (not less than -10C and not more than +50C).
- Flexure, folding or creasing of the passport should be avoided. The maximum flexure allowed is less than 10mm. The passport should not be carried in clothing that will induce flexure such as trouser pockets (front or back).
- The passport should be stored in a clean, dry place and protected from UV lights, mechanical stress, scratching or rubbing.
- Excessive impact resulting in visual mark or indentation should be avoided.
- Accidental or deliberate damage to the passport will invalidate the warranty.
- Any attempt to change the data or appearance of the passport will invalidate the warranty.
- The passport should not be immersed in liquids.
- This passport is the property of the Government of Malta, and it may be withdrawn at the government’s discretion. This is a valuable document which cannot be modified in any way and should not be left in the possession of any unauthorised person.
Photographs are required in the following cases:
- Minors under fourteen (14) years.
- Persons who do not hold a valid Maltese e-ID card since they are not residing in Malta.
- Applicants unable to call in person at the Passport Office due to health, old age or sickness reasons.
Whenever applicants are requested to attach a set of photos to their application, it is important to point out that:
- The photos must be printed on photo-quality paper and in high resolution.
- The photos must be in colour, taken against a white background and printed on a non-glossy paper.
- The photos must be not older than six (6) months.
- Whenever two (2) photos are required, these must be identical.
- In the case of minors under the age of fourteen (14) years, they must be the only subject in the photograph. The portrait shall show the minor alone with no other people, chair backs or toys visible.
- The photos should measure 40mm x 30mm (1.58 x 1.18 inch) in height and width.
- The photos should portray a close-up of the applicant’s head and the top of his/her shoulders. The face should take up 70-80% of the vertical dimension of the photograph.
- The head of the person being photographed should not be tilted up, down or to the side, but centred.
- The photos need to be in sharp focus and of high quality with no creases or ink marks.
- The photos need to show the applicant looking directly towards the camera, portraying his/her neutral expression. Smiles, frowning, raised eyebrows or unusual expressions are not acceptable.
- The photos should have the appropriate brightness and contrast, showing the person’s natural skin tone.
- The photos shall show the applicant with his/her eyes open and clearly visible (with no hair obscuring the eyes) and the mouth closed.
- The applicant needs to look facing square to the camera, not looking over one shoulder (portrait style).
- The head should be upright so that an imaginary horizontal line drawn between the centres of the eyes may be parallel to the top edge of the picture.
- Both edges of the face shall be clearly visible.
- The background shall be plain and white. Photographs with dark, busy or patterned backgrounds will not be accepted.
- The lighting shall be uniform with no shadows and no reflection on the face.
- Red eyed photographs are not accepted.
- The person should wear normal/casual attire, without wearing a hat or dark glasses.
- Head coverings shall not be accepted except in circumstances specifically approved by the competent authority. Such circumstances may include religious, medical or cultural reasons.
- Unless worn daily for religious reasons, all hats or headgear should be removed for the photo. A signed statement from the applicant must be submitted with the application verifying that the item is worn daily for religious reasons. In all cases, no item or attire should cover or otherwise obscure any part of the face.
- A photo depicting a person wearing a traditional facemask or veil that does not permit adequate identification is not acceptable.
- The photo shall show the eyes clearly with no light reflection off the glasses and no tinted lenses. If possible, avoid heavy frames. The frames shall not cover any part of the eyes. Dark glasses or non-prescription glasses with tinted lenses are not acceptable unless they are needed for medical reasons, in which case a medical certificate is required.
- Photographs where the face of the person is not focused will not be accepted.
- Slot machine photographs, textured photos, inferior quality photographs and photographs subject to fading or sensitive to heat are not acceptable.
- Only original photographs are acceptable. Copied or digitally scanned photos will not be accepted.
- Photographs must not be digitally altered or retouched to change the person’s appearance in any way.