Avid traveler Ann Wingfield, 85, attempted to renew her passport photo this year but struggled because government software couldn’t tell the difference between her hair and the photo’s background
Image: Manchester Evening News)
A woman has spoken out about her difficulties getting a passport – because her hair was “too white” for photos to be accepted.
The problem seems to arise when someone with white skin and hair has a passport photo taken against a pale background, as the rules dictate.
This can result in passport computer software not being able to tell when a person’s hair stops and background begins – and their passport applications fail.
Ann Wingfield, 85, has white hair. Like many Brits, she applied for a new passport after the worst Covid pandemic when international travel was allowed again.
Ann and her husband were keen travelers before the pandemic and have driven their caravan around Europe on a number of occasions and enjoyed it cruise Public holidays.
So on February 23rd of this year, Ann and her husband went to their place Morrisons to have new passport photos taken.
But Ann was told her passport photo was not accepted so she went back the next day to try again.
The photo technician told her the problem was that her white hair didn’t show up properly against the light background needed for the passport photo.
Not only that, the problem had also arisen before.
“They said they’d had these problems before,” Ann said. “It was a gray background, so there was really a difference between it and my hair color.”
Ann submitted her photo online on February 26 to receive a new passport and was again told her photo was unacceptable.
Many other Brits have encountered the same problem.
Taking to Twitter, a user said: “Everyone else had this problem. I can’t share the rules for renewing my passport because my hair is blending into the background. White hair can’t be that unusual, can it.”
Another said: “Warning to anyone with white hair trying to get the passport office to accept a photo. I’ve tried about 20 times and they keep refusing, saying they can’t find the outline of my head.”
Luckily, Ann chose to ignore the warning given online about her photo and submitted it anyway.
It worked – and according to HM Passport Office, it’s actually the best thing to do when you’re having this problem.
This way a human can take a look at the application and find out if a photo is usable.
A spokesman for the passport office said: “If a photo fails our automated check, customers can override the result and submit the photo as part of their application.
“The image is then evaluated by a human to determine if it is suitable.
“We are committed to making uploading a digital photo as easy as possible and to continuing to improve this process for all of our customers.”
Ann now has her passport but said: “If I had known it was going to take that long I would have saved my money, I wouldn’t have bothered.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/woman-85-told-cannot-new-26793092 Woman, 85, said she couldn't have a new passport because her hair was "too white".