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If you are doing passports, then you will be aware of the new regulations, but have a read of this from the BJP site

Title: Passport to pandemonium

Feature: news

Date: 5 October 2005

Passport images are now subject to more stringent regulations than ever before - but not everyone is up to speed on them, reports Diane Smyth

Photographers shooting ID pictures for passport use are falling foul of stringent new regulations brought in by the government early last month.

While most photographers are aware that the new rules (BJP, 14 September) outlaw accessories such as hats and sunglasses, and that smiles are no longer allowed, few realise that images can no longer be printed on photographic paper bearing the manufacturer's branding on the reverse. The rule is referred to in the UK Passport Service's guidelines, which state that passport photographs must be 'printed on plain white photo quality paper (not watermarked or embossed)'.

Some social photographers with a sideline in passport portraits have expressed surprise that this applies to the reverse of the photograph as well as the front. One such photographer, Moosa Masters, who owns Masters Photographic in Manchester, says the Liverpool passport office rejected his passport photographs three times for this reason.

He told BJP: 'The first set of images I shot myself was rejected because the word Kodak was printed across the back of each photograph. The second set of images was shot digitally in a photo booth, but was also rejected because of writing on the back. The third set was taken by a photographer recommended by the passport office, but was rejected for the same reason.

'I don't make a great deal of money out of passport photographs, but I have been taking them for 20 years for quite a few of my clients,' he continued. 'I don't have any photographic paper that doesn't have the manufacturers' name across the back.'

A spokeswoman from the UK Passport Service confirmed that passport photographs bearing branding on their reverse are no longer acceptable. 'The issue of the paper is mentioned in the guidelines,' she said. 'UKPS has been working with all major passport photograph suppliers to help them update.'

The spokeswoman explained that this rule had been brought into place to ensure that passport photographs can be 'flawlessly scanned'. All UK passport images are now scanned, as in future the UK will move to a biometric facial recognition system, in which individual passport portraits will be compared to images on a national database. The other rules, outlawing smiles, sunglasses and hats, have been brought into being for the same reason.

- For further information visit www.ukpa.gov.uk.


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We have had three back this week because of problems that we couldn't see, even with the letter telling us why they had been rejected. We use Kodak PictureMaker to print them and have had none back for Kodak logo - yet. We are now introducing a price for ID photos and a higher price for passports as we are taking twice as long on passports.

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We do plenty of passports on royal paper no come back yet with regard to logos on the back of the print although we have plenty of rejections from photobooths and instant systems taken elsewhere. They definately have seemed to have become stricter on head size and shadows lately. If I have to invest in a new paper mag for this I am afraid a little price rise will be on the cards. I will see how things go on the branded paper for now.

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polaroids instant film packs for passport photos are lustre finish.

I use a digital camera and import the shot into photoshop and use a homemade template so I print 6 up on a 6x4 sheet. I print on gloss, had no problems as yet.

Checking thru all the guff I've been sent from polaroid there is no mention of surface finish so I think you can use what you want Dave.

The issue of the logo on the back is a new one on me, certainly no mention of that in the info I've got. Could this be an overzealous passport office employee at the home office? (whose wages we pay incidentally  >:()

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we have had a few problems with passport photos as well, mainly through flare on glasses so we now take without flash and work on them in photoshop.

we have recently got holdof the template that the post office use to check passports,

so i am going to post the regs on here for all to use to save you all from costly reprints.


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Another problem we have is post office employees who don't understand the new rules.

I've just had a ppp rejected because the head height was allegedly too big.


It was spot on, the rules claerly state that the measurement is taken  thru the 'top of SKULL,, THROUGH the hair'- not to the top of the hair !! Our local dopey post lady measured to the top of the hair and rejected it. When measured properly it was spot on.

I'm now making the head height a little smaller to allow for this misinterpretation.

Oh yes, I've put up my prices  ;D

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  • 1 month later...

Sony are not only shipping UKPS compliant media, they are also arranging exchange of the old backmarked media. Photomart, as an official UK Sony distributor, are running an exchange scheme for them, and we have published a resource page that includes the new UKPS specifications: http://www.photomart.zenwebhosting.com/sonypassport In addition, we expect to have compliant Kodak and Konica media by the New Year.

We'll run a big ad about the Exchange in Pixel next week, and Infolab a fortnight later.

There is an amnesty on full compliance from UKPS till January 1. However, officially, the new rules came into effect at the end of last summer, I believe, and many passport offices, post offices and high street partners of UKPS seem to have been a bit over zealous in applying them!

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We have had the same biometric requirements in Australia for the past 12 months, the passport office sent us a similar overlay template as seen on the list. Biggest problems are at the post office counter, we send our customers direct to the passport office. We shoot on a Pentax Optio 45 and print out via a kiosk, now on Konica paper and no problems with watermarks. Not sure why these are an issue with scanning how does it show through? Perhaps another a bit of over zealous public servant policy!

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  • 2 months later...

One problem may be that the passport office itself may not fully control what will and will not be rejected. Some rejection appears to be done by high-street partners like the Post Office, before the passport photos are actually scanned. I imagine they act on guidelines provided to them from UKPS.

In my opinion UKPS has been, and remains, far from consistent in its various pronouncements about the whole issue.

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The passport office is not currently rejecting passports because of normal backprinting. They have stated that they will EVENTUALLY require pictures to be clear of any backprinting.

HOWEVER various manufacturers are speaking to them to try to resiolve this. Basically the manufacturers object to being asled to leave their branding off in order to satisfy a requirement for a very small proportion of their prints.

My advice is to be fairly relaxed about this but to make sure that your dye sub application will (eventually) produce a non backpeinted picture. In other words, you can use up your stocks of media.

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>you can use up your stocks of media

But make sure that you do use them up!

Manufacturer's will have no further obligation to replace media sold to end users once those users have had long notice of the change.

And watch out for the production dates on batches of new media you buy. The distribution channels still hold substantial inventory of media dated BEFORE the regulation change. This is usually EXCLUDED from exchange under the t&c's, as in theory you should have used up that media before the change was announced! (Go figure!)

(It's worth mentioning that BOTH sides of a passport photo may now be scanned. Backprinting can interfere with the capture of written endorsements on the back of passport photos. Despite other statements from UKPS, their guidelines do already say no "watermarking or embossing". And, again despite other statements, if in practice they cannot capture data adequately from a passport photo because of backprinting, they WILL reject that photo. Individual brances of some of UKPS's high street partners are already reported, anecdotally, to have rejected some passport photos on grounds of backprinting.)

Photomart regularly makes customer-care calls to many hundreds of passport photo businesses throughout the UK, and we have had anecdotal reports of sporadic passport photo rejection for many months now. We were for a time sole distributor of one of the major brands of passport photo media. As such we have been privy to some of the dialogue between the industry and UKPS as the issue has developed. We're also a member of the PMA, and have observed the associations's comments on its correspondence with UKPS on this issue.

Passport photo businesses will apply common sense to this. Some of the best information they have is their own experience.  However, it is the case that backprinted media will cease to be accepted, and stocks of it will be unusable for UK passports.

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As of February 17 SONY have a letter from UKPS confirming that backprinted media should, for the time being, not be rejected, provided the backprinting does not show through when the photo is scanned.

However, UKPS's earlier requirement for no backprinting will be reinstated later this year, the letter states.


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  • 2 weeks later...

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