smiling in passport

Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

There's a reason you can't smile in passports and it's surprisingly practical.

Most of us have been trained since before we could talk to smile when someone is taking our picture. It's almost a Pavlovian response at this point, especially when that picture is going to be representative of you for years to come in an official capacity. Driver's license pictures usually involve people attempting to look their best, or at least as presentable as possible, complete with a smile.

Passport photos are no different, except when you get to the passport photo place with your freshly coifed hair, showing off that beautiful smile, you're told to cut it out. Well, maybe in nicer words, but the sentiment is still the same. Keep your teeth behind your lips; there's no smiling in passport photos. But why?

I've personally never understood why this was a thing for the government to be concerned about. You're likely getting your passport to go somewhere exciting or visit family in another country (which is also exciting), so why no smiles?

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