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Do you want a passport? Then keep your trap shut.


PEOPLE will have to keep their mouths shut on passport photographs from today, according to official guidelines.

The UK Passport Service said photos showing travellers with their lips apart would confuse security scanners being phased-in to measure facial parameters.

Smiles will not be banned, however. A slight cheesy grin will be allowed, providing the lips are together, a Home Office spokesman said.

However, the exact wording of the guidelines said: ``It must show their full face, looking straight at the camera, with a neutral expression, with their mouth closed. ''

The snaps must also show eyes open and clearly visible, with no sunglasses or heavily-tinted glasses and no hair across the eyes, the guidelines said.

There should be no reflection on any spectacles worn by the applicant in the photograph and the frames should not cover their eyes.

Head coverings would only be allowed if they were worn for religious beliefs.

The new requirements are part of a package to ensure British passport photographs meet recently-agreed international standards.

Images will be measured by facial recognition software as so-called ``biometrics'' are introduced into travel documents, with the facial image loaded onto a microchip in ``e Passports''.

A new leaflet shows in words and pictures what is and is not acceptable.

Other requirements are that applicants must submit two identical photographs taken in the last six months.

They should be printed on normal photographic paper and should be one and -three-quarters by one-and- a quarter inches (45mm and 35mm) in size.

Photographs should show a close-up of the applicant's head and shoulders so that the face covers 70% to 80% of the photograph, taken against a white, cream or light grey plain background.

Photographs must be printed at 1200 dots per square inch resolution or better if they are digital or scanned photos. The requirements begin immediately although the spokesman said the Passport Service would show some flexibility until early 2005 while photographers get used to the new specifications.

UKPS chief executive Bernard Herdan said: ``These new guidelines are an important step in the development of the new biometric e Passport and use of facial recognition technology that will be introduced in 2005 as part of the ongoing fight against fraud and international terrorism. ''
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 6, 2004
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