What Happens When You Don’t Look Like Your Passport Photo? [Roundup]

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  1. “What Happens When You Don’t Look Like Your Passport Photo?” This is a VERY timely article/question for me, and my response is, I am not waiting to find out! Here’s my story: I renewed my passport about a year ago, and the photo was taken by the Passport agent at a Passport office (desk) at my local City Hall; all “official.” When I received my new Passport about 6 weeks later (so quickly!) I was shacked at the photo. The entire upper portion of my head, beginning in the middle of my forehead, was just a “whitewash,” i.e., with absolutely NO detail of the rest of my head, etc. Although feeling the photo was not a good representation of my full face, I put it all aside since I was not planning to travel right away. However, I have begun planning a trip to Europe for the Fall of 2024…and I began to wonder: What might happen if, somewhere in Europe, with a “zealous” Border Control agent objecting to my photo as somehow inadequate, etc., that I might be detained, have my Passport seized, or whatever. I am WELL into my Senior years, and I became concerned. I decided to check my concerns with another Passport Office to see what the Agent/s might think of my concerns. To my (grateful) surprise, when I showed my Passport photo to the agents, they were shocked, agreed with me that the photo was very “substandard,” and supplied me with an “emergency” phone number (an 877#) for the Passport Administration to contact to ask how to replace the photo or get an entirely new, replacement Passport! Lesson learned…and take nothing for granted!

  2. Passport issues happened with my daughter, whose appearance changed so much between ages 15 and 21 that she was 2x detained when re-entering the US. One of those experiences was a 3-hour, grueling interrogation as to why she was entering the US on a US passport–and she is a US citizen, born and raised in Key West! Her sun-bleached hair, tan, and round face of a young teen in no way matched the dark-haired, slender-faced young woman of 21. So she had her passport re-done.

    She is now 30 but at times appears to be a minor, despite a few premature gray hairs. She is still questioned at times by immigration about why she is traveling without her parents, although her passport shows her true age! Sometimes, one just cannot win.

  3. I don’t know if me not looking like my passport
    was why I was questioned after returning from Rome to DFW. They ask me why I went to Italy. I told them a vacation. I’ve always wanted to go to Italy. It was there so I went. I mean why not? It’s not against the law is it? I had a son in a wheelchair with me. I don’t know if that made a difference. It makes me think of I Love Lucy when they got their passport photos. Lucy and Ethel couldn’t get a picture they liked. Lucy said I don’t understand it. This same photographer took our wedding pictures 15 years ago and we looked great. Ethel said you don’t suppose we really look like this do you?! Fred said he looked like a fist with eyes. Lucy said her face looked like it was put on hot and ran.

  4. This is why many countries now implement retinal and finger print scans at port of entry. Some airports in US are now implementing retinal San too now. When you travel abroad, all whites looks the same to Asians, and Asians looks all the same to whites. So this solves it. At least it should.

  5. Just had an issue in Punta Cana with differences in the pictures of how I looked when I came and when I left. The computer wouldn’t match them and an agent had to open the final automatic door to me get out of emigration. Guess that’s what happens when your beard grows for 2 months. No issues coming into the U.S. though, I perhaps because a human being was looking.

  6. Everytime I go to Australia I get pulled aside for questioning as my passport photo doesn’t look like me. I lost a lot of weight and it made a big difference in my looks. Once I almost missed a connection to Papua New Guinea because of it and I was just transiting in Australia. Two more years and a new passport.

  7. Passport pre-beard. Now full beard. I do get the occasional double-take (and frequent comment from the immigration official) but never had an issue.

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