From growing a beard to going bald or putting on weight, many things can alter your
appearance but what physical or aesthetic changes mean you'll need a new passport photo? Find out
There are many reasons why our
appearance might change, but which ones mean you will need to renew your passport? (Main image credit Wikipedia)
With our passport photo lasting for ten years in the UK, there are many reasons why our image may not
be immediately recognisable - but how do we make sure our passport photo is legal and will be accepted by
border control officers in the UK and abroad.
I dyed my hair or it has turned grey, do I need a new passport?
Hair turning grey is something that affects most people at some point in life, while many others choose
to alter their looks with a completely new hair colouring.
Do I need to change my passport photo? No. The colour of your hair makes no difference
to the effectiveness of your passport photo. This is because biometric data on the passport does not
include hair colour, with the digital reader looking at the dimensions of your facial structures - such as
distance between eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
I have gone bald, shaved my head or changed my hair style, do I need a new passport?
Both men and women can suffer from hair loss, with this ranging from mild thinning to complete balding.
But will this change of appearance need to be dealt with by a new passport
Do I need to change my passport photo? No. Once again, your hair – or lack of it – is
not relevant to the biometric data held on your passport's chip. The reader will only look at how
your face is constructed.
I have grown a beard, do I need a new passport for new facial hair?
While a dusting of stubble or neatly trimmed goatee won't cause issues, might a large, bushy
full-face beard result in a close shave at immigration with the officer looking at your neatly-trimmed
Do I need to change my passport photo?
clearly state that growing a beard will not mean you need to change your passport.
I've had a tattoo on my face, do I need a new passport?
A major new facial tattoo could easily change your appearance, as could removing or changing an
existing inking - so would this, or piercings, warrant a new passport photo?
Do I need to change my passport photo? If you've had a large facial tattoo or
even removed one, you should call the passport office to report this. A source at the Passport Office said
they would "highly advise" anyone with a major new facial tattoo to apply for a new document.
I’ve put on or lost a lot of weight, do I need a new passport?
As we age, most of us will put on around 2lbs or weight each year, but for some the increase can be
much more severe and rapid. Will this - along with severe weight loss - be cause to change our passport
Do I need to change my passport photo? A few pounds here or there - or even stone or
so in lockdown weight gain - won't warrant a new passport application, but extreme changes that
severely alter the structure of your face could need reporting. The extra weight could cause a conflict
with biometric data held on your current passport. Contact the Passport Office for advice.
I have started wearing glasses, do I need a new passport?
For many of us, our eyes will deteriorate and we will need to wear glasses at some point in our life –
even if it’s just for reading or driving, but will you need to get a new passport picture showing your new
Do I need to change my passport photo? The answer to this one is very much no. The
passport office does not like glasses being worn in photographs, so a new photo will not be required to
preserve the validity of your document.
I have had cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, do I need a new passport?
From nose job to face-lifts or reconstructive surgery required due to trauma or disease, there are many
people who will need to know if they'll need an updated photograph on their passport. Figures show
that around 30,000 people had some form of cosmetic surgery in 2018 alone - with many procedures involving
the face and neck.
Do I need to change my passport photo? Facial cosmetic or reconstructive surgery is
likely to change the structure and ‘mapping’ of your face, which is likely to alter the biometric data of
your face. This could leave you at risk of having an invalid passport. You will need to report such
changes to the passport office.
My baby has grown up, does he / she need a new passport?
Your child may have had a passport photo taken at just a few weeks old, so when the document expires
five years later, it's unlikely to look very much like the same person. But will you need to get a
new passport photo to travel abroad?
Do I need to change my passport photo? No. Despite the transition from baby to toddler
creating a drastic change in appearance, the immigration officer will simply ask additional security
questions to the parent/guardian, and possibly the child.
If I do need to report a change in appearance, can I simply send a new photograph for my passport?
Sadly not. If you appearance has altered enough to require a new photo, you will need to apply for a
completely new passport. This will allow for the new data to be added to the biometric chip on the
The time left on your current one will not be added on to the new one.
Disclaimer: If you believe your appearance has significantly changed, please contact
the Passport Office for advice.
How to contact passport webchat?
Most read travel news
Take a look at more of our top travel-related news and guides here...
Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including
The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media
Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim
Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with
news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden
us: Pete Barden Motoring and Travel News
See our privacy page here