A tenth of passport photos were rejected since 2020 for one silly mistake

A tenth of passport photos were rejected since 2020 for one silly mistake
Travelling after Brexit: What are the rules for UK and EU passports?
Independent TV

Most people have experienced the frustration of getting a passport photo just right for it to be accepted by HM Passport Office, but government data obtained by indy100 has revealed many photograph submissions as part of passport applications are still making a simple mistake.

The statistics, received in response to a Freedom of Information request, found the third most common reason for photos being rejected by officials last year was due to the person’s face being too close to the camera, with the first and second most common reasons being issues with file sizes and file types respectively.

Cases of the image resolution being too low took fourth place, while the top five list is finished off by images containing “facial features below [the] threshold”.

UK passport rules mean photos – either printed or digital – must depict a head and shoulders image of individuals having their eyes “open and visible”, with a plain expression (closed mouth), hair out of the person’s eyes and no other objects or people visible.

However, the data suggests photo submissions where a person’s face is too close to the camera has remained a persistent issue over the past three years, with 16.7 per cent of rejected snaps citing this error as the reason for it not being accepted.

Filetype made up 32 per cent of rejection reasons between January 2020 and December 2023, with filetype coming in at just short of 18 per cent.

Just over four per cent of rejections were because officials couldn’t find the person’s eyes in the photo – yes, really.

The same percentage – 1.4 per cent – was given for photos where the face was either two high or too low, while 0.5 per cent were rejected for the face being too far to the left, and 0.4 per cent were refused for being too far to the right.

The news comes a month after travellers were warned of European Union rules post-Brexit which mean EU countries refuse to accept passports where the date of it being issued is older than 10 years from the date of departure, or has fewer than three months left before the expiry date on the day they intend to return to the UK.

The problem is that before Brexit, the Passport Office was handing out passports valid for longer than 10 years, and recent analysis by The Independent has suggested 200 people are falling victim to this technicality at UK airports and being refused boarding as a result.

Putting the stat another way, it’s been estimated that 2.4 million travellers have travel documents which can’t be used for journeys around the EU because of the issue around expiry requirements.

The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder advises people renew their passport if necessary to avoid the problem - but it’s also worth making sure your application isn’t delayed by issues with the photograph.

HM Passport Office says you can obtain a photo either by taking one yourself, or getting it from a photo booth or shop such as the Post Office, adding that photos taken using the latter option are more likely to be approved.

And if your passport photo looks anything like the snap seen on one unfortunate US citizen's passport from 2017, then maybe speak to someone to get it sorted.

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