Important Due to Covid-19, processing times for passports are taking longer than normal for both standard and expedited services.

Outdated Passport Pictures

by Janelle
( Seattle, Washington, United States)

Question: My son's passport is valid until August of this year but his photo is 5 years old and, at 16, the difference between then and now is significant. When traveling on an exchange program to Germany two years ago, German Officials questioned him regarding the validity of his photo.


Now, as we prepare to travel to Mexico next month and The Bahamas in April, I'm concerned we'll encounter trouble.

I have been unable to get this concern addressed via FAQs on web pages. Can you advise?

Answer: If your son was questioned about his passport photo two years ago, there is a good chance that border agents in the Bahamas and in Mexico could do the same.

There is no way to update a passport photo other than apply for a new passport. Since your son's passport will expire this year, you may want to do this even though he will lose some of the remaining validity.

Since your son is 16, parents are not required to appear with him. Also, his new passport will be valid for 10 years. If you prefer to go this route, click the link below for a complete list of requirements.

New Passport Requirements

One suggestion, if you prefer to wait, is to carry some photos of your son taken from the time he received his passport until now.

Return to Passport Photo FAQ.

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UPDATE: Mailing delays are impacting passport processing. The Department of State's processing times begin when applications are received at a passport agency or center and not when you mail them or apply at a local acceptance facility. Standard service may take between 6 and 9 weeks. This timeframe does not include delivery time. Mailing times vary across the country.

Expedited service takes from 3 to 5 weeks exluding mailing times on the front and back end. Mailing delays may be significant so requesting 1-2-day mailing may greatly help.

Regional passport agencies are offering two types of appointments: Life-of-Death Emergency Service and Urgent Travel Service.

Life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, sibling, and grandparent) that require you to travel outside the United States within 3 business days.

If you need to travel due to a qualified life-or-death emergency, please call the National Passport Information Center for an appointment:

Mondays through Fridays 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. ET, call 1-877-487-2778 (TDD/TTY:1-888-874-7793) Outside of these hours, call 202-647-4000.

For Urgent Travel Service, you need to call 14 days before your scheduled international travel or 28 days if you also need to secure a foreign visa.

If you need to travel urgently for reasons other than a life-or-death emergency, please call the NPIC at 1-877-487-2778 Mondays through Fridays 8 A.M. to 10 P.M. ET.

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