Do you know that you are not allowed to smile in a passport photo? But, why is this? Well, before we discuss this any further, we would like to share with you some information on facial recognition systems and biometric passport photos. Why does every country in the world today use biometric passports? And, what are the guidelines used in taking biometric passport photos?
The whole concept of using biometric photos is to make facial recognition easier. Facial recognition technology scans your face at the airport and your passport photo, comparing the two for similarities based on your unique facial features.
A smile, whether big or small, can affect the ability of facial recognition software to identify you based on your passport photo. Failure to identify you can lead to delays, missed flights, or not being allowed to board a plane altogether.
For humans, recognising another individual’s face is natural and lightning-fast. However, for computers, facial recognition involves comparing a 3-D face with a 2-D image. This involves identifying and measuring distinct facial features from a given image. Highly specialised cameras at airports and train stations measure a user’s facial features including the distance between mouth, nose, ears, and pupils, the width of the eyes and mouth, and many others.
It is because of this that the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) has set strict regulations on passport photos. Modern passports also include bio-data information of its holder stored in a chip which is part of the passport.
Now, back to the big question of whether you can smile in a passport photo – it’s actually one of the biggest causes of rejections and/or delays in processing passports. However, it was not always bad or wrong for you to smile in a passport photo. Not so long ago, people were allowed to have a friendly facial experience in their passport photos. But things changed when facial recognition technology was widely adopted on the global stage. Now, there are strict requirements for official documents like passports that have to be adhered to in most countries.
While there are some countries that are a bit more lenient on the smiling issue, other requirements are similar for most other countries, such as: a person cannot crinkle, frown, or tighten their mouth. Making funny facial expressions is also not allowed. In Australia, the person whose passport photo is being taken is required to keep their eyes open and directed straight at the camera lens, keep their mouth closed, look straight at the camera with their facial muscles relaxed and maintain a neutral facial expression.
Another thing that you must not do in passport photos is any form of digital manipulation or post-editing. This is another major cause of passport rejection. The passport photo must be clear enough for the facial recognition software to facilitate fast and easy identification at points of travel. This is why you are not allowed to smile when taking your passport photo or during identification at points of travel.
As already mentioned, adults in most countries are required to maintain a neutral facial expression in their passport photos; but, what about kids and babies?
Well, we all know that it’s not easy to get children to maintain a neutral facial expression for very long. They are so used to smiling in casual photos that they will most likely do the same for passport photos. For this reason, kids and babies are allowed to smile in their passport photos, so long as the child’s face is clearly visible in the passport photo.
Photoland has an experienced passport photo team. If you are near our studio, give us a visit and get back your passport photo in as few as 15 minutes with our rush service. With our 100% acceptance guarantee, there is nothing for you to risk. If you are busy, you can always email us your photos and get back the printed photos within a few days. Our online passport photo printing service is especially suitable for kids or newborns.
So if you’re looking for the best store in Sydney for your passport photo, then look no further than Photoland. We offer a complete range of products and services from print photos and scanning, right through to picture framing and photo albums.
Please call us today on (02) 9235 1933 or leave an enquiry.