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No Glasses In Passport Photos Beginning Nov. 1

Charles Michael Ray

Leave the glasses at home the next time you go to get your picture taken for a passport.
The U.S. Department of State will no longer allow any type of eye wear in photos beginning November 1st.

Officials with the Department of State say they’re in charge of issuing millions of passports to United States citizens each year.

William Cocks is a spokesperson with the Bureau of Consular Affairs, a division of the Department of State. He says the decision to not allow glasses in photos is a matter of security.
“The U.S. Passport, it’s one of the most powerful documents in the world, and it’s also one of the most secure documents in the world. Really what this is about is our biometric screening, when you wear glasses that can have a glare on the lenses, that can cause shadows, which can interfere with our screening systems,” says Cocks.

Cocks says it’s taking as long as six weeks for people to receive their passports because of a surge in applications.
“Right now it’s going to be in 2017 probably our biggest, most demand for passport applications ever. We’re going to have a surge of passports because of something that happened ten years ago called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative where everyone travelling to Mexico and Canada needed passports. Passports are valid for ten years, all those people are renewing their passports now,” says Cocks.

Cocks says the change could prevent further delays on these wait times.
“Bad photos caused by things such as glare from glasses was the number one reason that passport applications were delayed, we had more than 200,000 bad photos just last year alone,” says Cocks.
Cocks says other photo issues that could delay a passport include background shadows and non-standard colors.

He says right now officials are working on contacting businesses that offer passport photo services to make sure they know about the updated requirements.

To view the full list of passport photo requirements, click here.