Sep. 14, 2012 at 6:43 PM ET
We know how you feel, young traveler. Welcome to the club.
Anyone who has ever been stuck with what seems like the world’s most awkward passport photo, prompting giggles from customs officials at borders around the globe, will get a smile out of this 5-month-old boy’s first try at looking suave for his passport.
When his father posted the picture online this week, he seemed to tap into a universal loathing of passport photos, which, as every flier knows, always seem to capture you at your most geeky and unattractive.
“I posted it before we went to bed, woke up the next morning and had friends from the U.K. saying congrats on making the front page of Reddit,” said Joel, who lives in Vancouver, B.C, and asked that his last name not be used for privacy reasons. Joel uses the handle "Jorge Churano."
“My wife took our 5 month old son to get his first passport photos taken — NAILED IT!” he wrote as the caption for the picture, which shows the baby with his mouth agape and one of his eyes closed sleepily.
Joel told NBC News that he went to get the passport photos taken because the family is exploring a job opportunity that has arisen in South America. Some of the pictures turned out fine, but he couldn’t resist sharing this set — which will not be used in the baby’s passport — with the world.
“The outtakes were just too funny to keep to ourselves,” he said.
Why does a baby need such a grown-up travel document in the first place?
Just like the United States, Canada requires that all children who fly internationally — including newborns and infants — have their own passport.
Thankfully for the family, the country isn’t too fussy about the emotions babies project in their photos: Passport Canada is “lenient” about the expression of a newborn, the agency says on its website.
The U.S. only asks that the baby’s eyes are open and looking straight ahead toward the camera in the picture.
Requirements for adults are a bit more strict. Travelers should have a neutral expression in their passport photo, with both eyes open and directly facing the camera — “unusual expressions” and squinting will not be accepted, the State Department warns.
Canada goes somewhat further, asking that adult travelers keep their mouth closed and put on a poker face. Smiling is not allowed so that the image is a better match for facial recognition systems, according to Passport Canada.
No matter where you get your passport photo taken, the resulting image seems to terrify travelers everywhere, with many venting online about looking old or unsightly. The “I hate my passport photo” Facebook page, for example, has 159,000 “likes.”
You’ll also find plenty of complaints on travel forums.
“(I) look like a convicted, unrepentant mass murderer in my passport pic,” a traveler wrote in a Lonely Planet discussion on the topic.
“I looked like a very happy pig. I was smiling so big and wide, my cheeks looked huge and for some reason my face looked really round that day,” another poster wrote.
Does your passport photo look like it’s time for you to go home? Send it to us today; we’ll put together a gallery of your funniest, most awkward passport pics.
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