An "e-passport" containing biometric data and an embedded chip should be introduced before the middle of next year, the Department of Internal Affairs says.

The United States has requested that countries that are part of its visa waiver programme include biometric data such as digital photographs and fingerprints by October next year.

The Department of Internal Affairs annual report, released this week, says live trials of a New Zealand "e-passport" are already being conducted in the United States, and such a passport should be introduced by July 1 next year.

The US requested the new standards after reviewing security in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

- NZPA