What happens when your appearance does not match your passport photo? Does it create a problem getting in or out of a country? I can now answer those questions with conviction.
As I mentioned on previous occasions, I lost all my hair this past year due to illness. Which means that my appearance doesn’t match either my driver’s license or my passport. As Carol and I prepared to leave for Russia, I contacted the US Passport Service to ask if I should get a new passport. While mine has one more year, I asked if I should renew it early. I was told that it was not necessary because they expect a person’s appearance will change over a 10-year period.
Throughout our journey, I had no problem at all. That is, until we started home. In Moscow, it was quite comical when the Passport Control agent looked first at my passport, then at me, then at my passport, then at me, then at my passport, then at me. She then looked at Carol, who started laughing at the scene. Eventually, she stamped my documents and allowed me to leave the country. In Los Angeles, it became wearying when the Passport Control officer let me in, but the Customs agent said I needed to “go to Line B” to have my identify verified since I had no other picture ID with me. Fortunately for me, the line B agent was bald and said he understood hair loss very well.
After traveling 15,000 miles for two weeks, I didn’t think it would be that hard to get back into the States. I definitely need to renew my passport before traveling internationally again. I may want to get a new driver’s licence as well, even though it is only one year old.