From makeup to hairstyles -‘unexpected’ reasons your passport application may be rejected

Simon Calder discusses post-Brexit passport rules for travellers

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Her Majesty’s (HM) Passport Office is already dealing with a backlog due to a sudden surge in applications once coronavirus travel restrictions were lifted. However, travellers who don’t follow the specific photo rules set out by HM Passport Office could face further delays or even have their application rejected.

According to experts at “If you’re about to send your passport documents off, there are some things you should know before you hit submit – as these unexpected things in your new photo could see your application rejected.”

Five reasons why your passport photo might be rejected

Showing your teeth

Perhaps the most well-known rule about passports is that you can not smile in your photograph.

An expert from explained: “A biometric photo is designed to make facial recognition easier.

“The facial recognition software reads your passport photo as well as scans your face at the airport, comparing the two based on very precise measurements of your facial features”

A smile, especially one where you show your teeth, can impair that recognition making it difficult for customs officers and facial recognition software to identify you based on your picture.

Facial piercings

HM Passport Office accepts ear or facial piercings such as nose rings or lip rings, however, there are limitations.

The experts explained: “Ear piercings need to be small and minimalist, as larger earrings may affect the picture by covering the side of your face, creating reflections or casting shadows.”

Too many facial piercings can also change your face’s biometrics, which could cause problems when you come to have your passport checked at the border. said: “The Passport Office, therefore, recommends that you remove as many of your piercings as you can before taking your photo.”

Wearing glasses

When you are taking a new passport photo, you should only wear glasses if they are medically necessary.

The experts said: “Even then, you must check your photo once you’ve taken it to ensure that your glasses’ frames are not obscuring any part of your face, causing shadows, or creating reflections.

“You should also avoid sunglasses and tinted glasses, as these will obscure your eyes entirely, resulting in your photo being rejected.”

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Styling your fringe

While you might want to look your best in your passport photo, styling your hair a certain way could cause problems.

The experts explained: “If you have a fringe or any hair on your forehead when you take your passport photo, it’s likely to face rejection when you send it off as UK guidelines indicate that your hair should not obscure your face.

“The golden rule is to make sure make sure that your eyebrows are still visible in your photograph.”

The experts also recommend tying long hair back to ensure it doesn’t fall across your face.

This will also eliminate the risk of shadows being cast on your photo.

Wearing certain makeup

Wearing over-the-top eye makeup might look glamorous, but it could cause problems for the biometrics of your passport photo.

According to the passport experts: “Our main piece of advice for this is not to wear any glitter or sparkly eyeliner at all, as this will definitely result in you needing to take a new photo, the reason being that not only will it distort how your eyes look, but it will cause glare in the photo itself, which will render it unreadable to the AI.”

Some winged eyeliner can also see your photo being rejected when it reaches the passport office.

According to experts at this is because it attempts to alter the shape of your eye, especially when using a dark shade such as black or brown, which makes your eyes look unnatural.

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