It took forever, but finally we got around to having our passport photos taken and making an application for new passports. Mine was about to expire and Jill’s – she’s my long-time girlfriend, and by “long time”, I mean 12 long years – expired long ago. Now that our passports have been issued, we can get on with planning our dream trip. We’re going to Bali, and I plan to ask Jill to marry me. On a beach. At sunset. Yes, it’s a cliché, but I’m an old romantic at heart, and I hope to melt hers. After 12 years together, I finally get around to popping the question. Just hope she says yes – though it’s more likely to be: “what took you so long?”
You only need one passport photo when making an application in the United States; other countries require two or more (four in some places). The US Department of State, whose Bureau of Consular Affairs issues new passports, requires that photos submitted with passport applications be 51mm x 51mm and be taken within the last six months. The background can only be white or slightly off-white and photos must be printed on glossy or matte photographic-quality paper. As with all passport photos, facial expressions must be neutral, although the US does allow what it calls a “natural smile”.
When applying for your baby’s passport, you will quickly realise that you have to find someone who is not related to you and doesn’t live with you, who can sign the back of your baby’s passport photos to say that they are a ‘good likeness’ of your baby. This person is called a ‘counter-signatory’.
It’s often been said that all babies look like Winston Churchill, so your chosen counter-signatory has to be familiar enough with your baby’s facial features to confidently attest to a good likeness. Your counter-signatory has to have known you for at least two years and must be a ‘person of good standing in the community’ or of a particular profession (e.g. a doctor, lawyer or social worker). The same rules apply if you need a passport for an older child – if they are under 11, your counter-signatory must sign your child’s passport photo too.