I No Longer Look Like My Passport Photo

elderly man with facial hair, young woman with freckles, an eye, young man with a beard, woman with red hair

Our appearance constantly changes  throughout our lives – we grow up, mature, and, later on, we grow old. There are also other  changes that happen all the time: we get piercings, change hair color, gain weight, get tanned or get pale, and grow facial hair. Some  people get plastic surgeries, too. These alterations affect not only our looks, though – they also affect certain  legal matters, such as your passport. When do we know that it’s time  to change our passport photo? Read the rest of our article to get your answers. 

Passport Size Photo Maker

Why does current appearance matter in a passport photo?

 A passport determines  whether or not we can travel the world. A passport photo helps  border control agents accurately determine whether or not  the person whose passport they’re checking is the person who brought it to them. We need current passport photos for safety purposes. Passports also work as identification documents everywhere around the world. It is therefore crucial that your passport photo is current. 

U.S. passport regulations about changes in appearance

There are no official rules as to what personal changes require retaking a passport photo and changing your passport. If you grow out or color your hair, or gain or lose weight, you might still look the same as you did when your passport was first issued. There’s one basic, very important principle that you must follow, though – take a long look in the mirror and then look at your passport photo. Is it still you? Could a complete stranger recognize you from this picture? Could they say, with complete certainty, that the person in the photo is standing right in front of them? 

If your answer is yes, then you have no reasons to worry – the changes you made don’t affect your similarity to your passport photo. The ‘you’ on your passport is still the ‘you’ from today. 

If your answer is no, then you might need to take a new photo and renew your  passport. It means that your changes were substantial, and therefore your look from today isn’t reflected in  the photo on your old document. 

When to take a new passport photo 

Taking a new passport photo can be a big deal. Here is  a list of the typical changes that have people getting new document pictures:

  • A major weight gain/weight loss – if you’ve lost or gained a lot of weight, then your face’s appearance is likely to have  changed significantly as well.
  • Getting a permanent tattoo that covers your facial features – this will very much affect your looks!
  • Having plastic surgery – if you have had major surgery performed on  your face recently, then you are likely going to need a new passport photo 
  • Gender change – this requires new personal details to be entered into your passport so you’re definitely going to need to make a new passport even if you still look about the same. 

When not to take a new passport photo

There are, of course, situations when we perceive ourselves differently than we look in reality. Our minds exaggerate the changes we’ve made and make us doubt our passport photos. Below, you can find a list of changes that typically won’t require a new passport photo:

  • A new haircut or hair color – these things change all the time and almost never require a new picture to be taken since your facial features stay the same. Read more about passport hair regulations here.
  • Growing facial hair – unless your facial hair  completely obstructs your face, it is not a major change in appearance because your face is still the same and you’re still fully recognizable. Read more about passport facial hair regulations here
  • A small weight change – if you gain or lose a small amount of weight then  your features are unlikely to have  changed that much 
  • Getting new piercings – if they don’t alter altering your face’s structure significantly, they are considered an addition and not a major looks change
  • Getting glasses – in some cases, you will be asked to take your glasses off, but normally they don’t alter your appearance. To find out more, have a look at our passport photo face guide.
  • Changing your makeup style – you shouldn’t  wear too much makeup in your passport photo so this is unlikely to affect the picture. Read more about make-up passport photo regulations here.

What happens if we don’t look like our passport photos anymore

So what really happens after you realize that your passport photo doesn’t look like you anymore? Well, it’s time to take a new picture and apply for a replacement passport. You can’t  switch the old photo with a new one on your original document, you need the whole package done all over again. This means that you need to take the photo, edit it properly and print it out. Help with this process comes in the form of an easy-to-use tool called Passport Photo Online. Below you can find details on exactly how it improves the passport-photo-taking task.

Passport Photo Online 

You  don’t want to waste time, time that could be spent with friends and family, waiting in lines, do you? No! So head to Passport Photo Online to take your picture, get it professionally edited, and returned to you  in no time! You don’t even have to leave your home to use this great app. It makes  your life easier with only a few mouse clicks and next to no money. Take as many photos as you want and do it all  from the comfort of your own home! Getting your passport picture has never been more effortless. This app is super user-friendly. 


Appearance changes’ relation to passport photos summarized 

There are two types of changes that we went over in this article – the ones that alter or obscure your facial structure, and the ones that don’t. If ‘you’ from today still looks like ‘you’ from your passport photo and only minor details have changed, then you’re fine to travel the world with your current passport. If the ‘you’ from today is completely different and a stranger would call you a different person from the person in your passport photo – it’s time to get a new one. 


I look different from the passport photo – what should I do?

The thing you need to measure is just how different you look. If it’s a small change, for example involving a hair color, then you don’t have to do anything as your initial face features are still recognizable. If the change is more substantial – after plastic surgeries, for example – then you might need to take a new photo and apply for a new document.

I don’t look like my passport photo – can I travel?

It depends on how big the difference is between you and your passport photo. If it doesn’t involve changing the facial structure or hiding it, then you should be able to travel with no problems. If the difference is bigger and involves changing the facial structure, then you should rethink your travels and possibly get a new passport with a new photo. If you don’t look like your passport at all, then you are most probably going to get stopped at the border of the country you want to enter. It’s way easier to get a new passport.

When to update a passport photo?

Passport photos should be updated in cases of major changes in the way we look (such as after plastic surgeries) or after your passport expires.

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