Does passport appearance matter?

It’s time for me to get a new passport which disappoints me a bit as I’ve had a bit of a theory that the photo matters. Does it really?

I was 26 when I last renewed my passport and I’m down to less than 6 months remaining. It’s time. Not only am I disappointed that I didn’t fill it, despite a valiant effort in the last couple years, I’m disappointed that I need a new photo. Not because I’m vain but because I’ve wondered a bit whether my photo eased my entry, even just a little.

For some reason, I got all cleaned up, put on a suit, and smiled big for my last photo. It turned out pretty good but most of all, I’ve always thought I looked like the most average, young, white, male, business traveler possible. Since then, I’ve been through passport control with my wife, friends, coworkers, and observed others. Again and again, I get waved through with hardly a second glance while I watch those around me get a question or two. No one’s been interrogated but it just seems like I get absolutely no attention at all. I love it!

Anyone else feel that the photo makes a difference?

Now, I don’t travel all dressed up. For the most part, I’m comfortable and casual. And I’ve got a tendency to put off shaving for far too long. On our return from Lima, Peru this spring, it’d probably been 10 days since my last shave, we’d slept in the airport lounge the night before, hadn’t showered in 36 hours, and I was probably long overdue for a haircut. Definitely not looking my best… Oh, and a fair bit of gray is creeping into my beard and hair. With Global Entry in Miami, we cruised right though but when going through security to reach on domestic segment, I presented my boarding pass and passport. The agent looked at my photo, back at me, back at my photo, and looked up again and said, in jest I think hope, “What happened to you?” Wow. He was smiling and we both laughed. That’s as much attention as I’ve ever had.

Anyway, I’m curious if anyone else thinks a passport photo really matters? Again, it’s been about 2 weeks since I last shaved  but my haircut’s pretty fresh and I’ve been debating… Go with the beard as I did on my driver’s license which makes me look a lot older (and gets funny comments) or clean shaven? Wear a suit coat and collared shirt and go all businessman? Or doesn’t it matter at all?




  1. Thats a hilarious comment from security!

    1. I loved it! Just surprised he actually said it! Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough with a smart reply.

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