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How to Know When You Need a
New Passport Photo

Surgical Instruments
Surgical Instruments by dlpn/DepositPhotos

We live in a world where changing your physical features through cosmetic surgery has become mainstream. The extremes to which people are willing to go to enhance their appearance went from simple changes like dyeing their hair to going under the knife and sometimes becoming almost unrecognizable. Many people want what they don't have; if they have curly hair, they want straight hair, brown-eyed people want blue eyes, and so on. These days there are many options to change how you look; in the 1960s you could only wish, hope, and dream to be as beautiful as Marilyn Monroe, but today people really can morph into the next Kim Kardashian.

You can literally go through magazines at the cosmetic surgeon's office and design your look; order this person's nose, that person's cheek bones, and those luscious lips. Changing your appearance is a personal choice, and the degree to which you try to do it will vary, but it's important to consider the effects of your choices. For instance, have you considered that altering your looks significantly will require getting a new identification such as a driver's license or passport?

Passport Rules on Change in Appearance

When it comes to any type of overseas travel you must have a passport; many people don't realize some of the restrictions involved in crossing international borders. While you may feel like you have a passport, and you are who you say you are, so what's the hold up, it's simply not that easy. Your passport needs to clearly verify that you are who you say you are. Passports isssued to applicants age 16 or older last for ten years, and a lot can change during that time. You will have to get a new passport before your current one has expired if you have altered your appearance so much that your picture no longer resembles you.

When You Need a New Passport Photo

If you have undergone significant facial surgery or suffered serious facial trauma, you will need a new passport. Someone who once had a large number of facial tattoos or piercings, but has since had them removed will need a new passport. Have you lost or gained a lot of weight since your passport was issued? If so, you will need to get a new one. Thanks to advances in medical technology, gender transition is now possible, which again will require a new passport. Anything that alters your appearance enough to make it look as if the person in your current passport photo is not the person standing before the immigration agent will require a new passport.

Changes That Don't Require a New Passport Photo

While there are certain alterations to one's appearance that will require a new passport to be issued, there are also less prominent changes that will not require getting a new one. The changes to your looks that allow you to keep your current passport are things such as hair length and color, the addition or removal of facial hair, and small piercings and tattoos. Simply put, if your hair is a longer than before, that's okay; if you have a beard now, that's okay, or your ears are pierced now and they weren't before, that is fine. Any alterations to your looks that aren't completely redefining will not require you to get a new passport.

Get a New Passport Fast

If you have planned a trip outside of the country and didn't realize that you would need a new passport just because your looks significantly changed, you may need to apply for an expedited passport. You can get one in as little as 24 to 72 hours if you're willing to pay the price. Fill out passport Form DS-82 for renewals by mail and attach a new passport photo that reflects how you look now. Overnight the application, your previously-issued passport and payment for fees to a passport expeditor. They will then handle getting everything for you in no time. This feature does cost a little more than the standard passport process, but when you're in a pinch, it's completely worth it!

If you've encountered problems using a passport photo that doesn't really resemble you any longer, share your experience with us in the comments below.

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