© Karenfoleyphotography | Dreamstime.com – Passport Picture Photo

Love it or hate it, you’re stuck with your passport photo for the next decade. But what happens if your appearance changes? Will you need a new passport photo?

In most cases, no, according to the State Department.  Rebecca Dodds, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, told CNN.com,

“As passports are valid for 10 years, the Department (of State) understands that applicants may undergo significant changes between the time the passport is initially issued and the time it is renewed.”

 Fashions may change with the season, but passport control officers are trained to look at facial features that stay constant. So, you can go from preppy to punk and back again, all on the same passport.


When You Need a New Passport Photo

Man with a face tattoo and a missing eyeball

That said, there are some circumstances in which you might need a new passport photo. According to the Department of State, “New photos are only required if your appearance has significantly changed from what is in your photo.”  Examples of “significant changes” include:

  • “Significant” facial surgery or trauma. Minor cosmetic procedures shouldn’t be an issue, but if you’ve had a lot of work done, you may need a new passport photo to match the new you.
  • Lost or gained a large amount of weight.
  • Have undergone a gender transition (or are in the process of doing so and have significantly changed your appearance).
  • Added or removed extensive facial tattoos or piercings.

 What About Child Passports?

Passports for children under age 16 are good for five years. Kids can change a lot in those five years, and that’s okay.  As with adults, significant facial surgery or trauma may require a new photo, but normal aging is just fine. You don’t need to get a new passport photo just because your tiny newborn is now a rambunctious toddler!


How to Get a New Passport Photo

Unfortunately, the only way to get a new passport photo is to get a new passport. If you already have a passport, you may be eligible to renew by mail. Learn more here: How to Apply for a Passport Renewal


If you’re not eligible to renew by mail, follow these instructions to apply for a new passport: How to Apply for a New Passport


Applying for a passport for a child? There are some additional application requirements. Learn more here:  How to Get a Child Passport


No matter how you apply for your new passport, be sure to allow 4 to 6 weeks for processing. If you use the government’s expedited service, you should get your passport within 3 weeks.  Processing times can vary according to how busy the State Department is; you can find the most up-to-date information here.


If you need your passport more quickly, you can either make an appointment at the nearest regional Passport Agency or use a private passport expediting company. RushMyPassport can get your passport application processed in as little as 24 hours, with no need to make an appointment or travel to a passport office.
 Need a passport or passport renewal in a hurry? We’d love to help!


Photo credits:  © Karenfoleyphotography | Dreamstime.com; By TUERTO ([1]) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons