Why Gaining Weight Could Make You Lose Your Passport

Why Gaining Weight Could Make You Lose Your Passport


JetBlue’s announcement that it will begin testing using facial recognition in place of a boarding pass had us wondering: What happens if you don’t look anything like your passport photo anymore? After all, a U.S. passport is valid for 10 years (if you were 16 or older when your passport was issued). But who among us looks the same at 16 and 25? Whether it’s a drastic facial hair change, getting glasses, or gaining weight … do you really look anything like your passport photo any longer?

Why Gaining Weight Could Make You Lose Your Passport

I checked in with the State Department for an official answer. The ruling: “New photos are only required if your appearance has significantly changed from what is in your photo. Growing a beard or coloring your hair would not constitute a significant change. If you can still be identified from the photo in your current passport, you do not need to apply for a new passport.

You may have to apply for a new passport if you have:

  • Undergone significant facial surgery or trauma
  • Added or removed numerous/large facial piercings or tattoos
  • Undergone a significant amount of weight loss or gain
  • Made a gender transition

If the appearance of your child under the age of 16 has changed due to the normal aging process, you do not need to apply for a new passport for him or her.”

(Full details can be found on the State Departments FAQ page here.)

So yes, if your appearance has changed from gaining weight (or losing weight), you could be required to get a new passport—but only if you’ve become unrecognizable from your passport photo.

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