Passport Stamps Passports could easily be described as a consumable to the frequent traveler. An everyday item that is used until full, and then simply discarded and replaced with a new one. Personally, my passports are somewhat of a trophy cabinet, with the various stamps and visa’s I have obtained throughout the years. Each and every stamp having its own particular story or memory.

Every time I flick through my old passports and stumble on the full page Zairian Visa, always kick starts memories of the time I was trying to cross into Zaire from Burundi. The immigration official noticed that a fellow traveler and I, had the same number on our visa’s. He then simply insisted we travel the 1,650 kilometres back to Nairobi to have a new one issued. There was no way this was going to happen, so we sat and played cards at the border for 8 hours until a shift change, and tried our luck again, and this time were admitted.

Old Photo

I was stuck with this photo for 10 years. A classic mug shot!

Liza has been trying to make me get rid of my current passport, basically since the day it was issued, nearly 10 years ago. The reason being, that the photo is so bad I look like a criminal. The dilemma is that if your stuck with a bad photo, you’ve got 10 years of looking forward to customs officials staring you down and thinking, ‘what is this fella up to?’ There is no doubt in my mind that I have been profiled because of my dodgy photo, and pulled aside for some extra questioning when entering various countries.

You see, the day I had my last passport photo taken, I was in a bit of disarray. To say I look terrible is an understatement, to be quite frank I look like a crack addict. I was on no sleep, unshaven and in a hurry. Let’s just say, on the day the photo was taken, if I’d made my way into town and sat on a street corner with a cardboard sign, I would have made a few bucks.

New Photo

Still not the best looking bloke in town, but respectable.

We have just booked an up and coming trip to Madagascar, and I looked at the date when my passport expires, and it only had a few more months of validity. Some countries will not allow you to enter on a passport with less than three months remaining, so I needed to get a new one. It appears that Liza has finally gotten her wish, as I was now forced to have a new one issued.

This time around I made sure I put a little more effort into my photo, and as you can see I’m clean shaven and look just like your average Joe, still not too flattering but at least I look somewhat normal. Has anyone else out there had a similar dilemma to mine, and been stuck with a passport photo that they simply hate. I know most passport photo’s are a little ugly, and with all the restrictions they put on you, like no facial expressions and mouth closed, but have you been issued one that just simply makes you look like a criminal?