US Consulate recommends getting a visa anyhow
Bermudians travelling far afield should consider obtaining a United States visa to avoid travel difficulties at borders unfamiliar with the island’s passports, the US Consulate advises.
Travellers are also advised to print off a list of details to carry with them when headed beyond the United States or Britain, to assist border officials.
The advisory came after a Bermudian was reportedly stuck in Istanbul at the weekend while attempting to fly home via the US.
Airport staff refused to let her board her flight under the mistaken belief that Bermudians required a visa to enter the US.
US visa exemption for Bermudian citizens:
• Bermudian passport holders are visa exempt for the United States
• A US visa is generally not required for Citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, except those Bermudians that fall under non-immigrant visa categories E, K, S, or V
• As Bermuda is not a visa waiver programme country, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda are not eligible to apply for the ESTA in a Bermuda passport
• Questions may be directed to the US Consulate General in Hamilton, Bermuda on (441) 335-3828 or by e-mailing HamiltonConsulate@state.gov
The consulate said the extra questioning or delays at some international borders did not arise from any changes to US border procedure or immigration laws.
Passports issued in Britain to British Overseas Territory citizens have made it harder for some officials to differentiate Bermudians from other Overseas Territory citizens.
Bermuda passports with the GBR code, when scanned, mistakenly indicate a visa or Electronic System for Travel Authorisation requirement for entry into the US.
Passports carrying the BMU code prompt a message to confirm the traveller is Bermudian and does not require a visa or ESTA.
US officials at LF Wade International Airport are familiar with the issue, but difficulties can be encountered at other borders.
Bermuda passport holders are not eligible to apply for the ESTA — but the consulate says that a US visa could “effectively reduce or eliminate additional questions at international borders”.
Frequent travellers, especially beyond the US and Britain, can pursue the option by following instructions on the US Consulate website.