Could smiling one day be allowed on passport photos?

Your go-to facial expression might be to flash a huge smile when someone whips out a camera. This is fine in your day to day life. You can’t, however, currently do this on your passport photo. This can be a real annoyance for some people, especially those who rarely pose for a picture without showing off their happiest face. The question is: could smiling soon be allowed on passport photos? Let’s look at what you need to know about the future of smiling on passport pictures.

What’s the current rule?

The guidelines state that you must have a ‘plain expression’ with ‘your mouth closed’ on your passport photo. This guideline first came into effect in 2005 in the UK and is arguably one of the most unpopular rules that people have to abide by when submitting their passport application.

Could it change?

It seems that an argument is being built to remove the rule. According to a new study conducted by the University of York in 2018, it would actually be easier for border officials to spot fraud and forgery if people were allowed to smile on their passport photo. Research leader Dr. Mileva explained: “Our research suggests that replacing the neutral expression we usually use when taking identification photographs with an open mouth smile can make face matching an easier decision.”

Have officials commented?

The Home Office have previously stood their ground against questions regarding the function of the ‘no smiling’ rule. In 2017, a spokesperson re-iterated that the guideline had been put into place as a result of the software now being used by e-gates at airports. The explanation read: “When the mouth is open it can make it difficult for facial recognition technology to work effectively.”

It’s picture time!

While you still can’t smile on your passport photo, it’s more than possible to take an image that you’re happy with – especially if you do so from the comfort of your own home. You can then send the image to the team at Paspic, who’ll confirm that the photo meets the guidelines before sending the hard copies back to you.

Photo: smile :) by gudka licensed under Creative commons 4

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