Do I need a new passport photo - I've grown a beard, dyed my hair, gone bald, put on weight, started wearing glasses


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?

Here travel journalist and expert Pete Barden takes a look at such physical changes and if they will mean you need a new photo for your passport.
Do I need to change my passport photo for appearance changesThere 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.
From beards to glasses and baldness, we take a look at various ways our appearance can be changed and if it means the passport office must be informed. You can find out about other changes that may need a new passport, such as getting married or moving home

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.

Subscribe for free motoring and travel news here - support independent journalism 

* indicates required


I have gone bald, shaved my head or changed my hair style

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 photo?
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

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 passport photo?
Do I need to change my passport photo? No. Government guidelines clearly state that growing a beard will not mean you need to change your passport. 

I've had a tattoo on my face

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.
Lounge Pass

I’ve put on or lost a lot of weight

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 photo?
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

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 specs?
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

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 document.
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?

If you need to get fast information on your passport, then logging on to HM Passport webchat could be the answer - if it it working. The official HM Passport Webchat can be found here.


facebook sharing button Share
twitter sharing button Tweet
pinterest sharing button Pin
email sharing button Email
sms sharing button Share
sharethis sharing button Share


Most read travel news 

Take a look at more of our top travel-related news and guides here...

Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, 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 on LinkedIn.

 About us: Pete Barden Motoring and Travel News

See our privacy page here