Photo of the new passport coverMy new passport, needed for my forthcoming trip to Romania as my then current passport expired on 19 August, arrived the other day, renewed using the ‘beta’ on-line service; very pretty and apart from one ‘blip’ a very efficient service.

I chose to use the on-line service because it is £10 cheaper, and I thought it would be quicker. It may have been quicker and certainly would have been except for one unexpected holdup.

As we don’t have a suitable ‘blank’ background at home for a passport photograph I decided to go to a passport photo specialist rather than risk my photo being rejected, which you are warned could result in delays.

Faulty photo recognition ‘robot’?

The first step in the on-line process is to submit your photograph. It was rejected on the grounds that it appeared that my mouth was open. Looking at the photo with a human eye this was clearly not the case. I wrote back to the service saying their ‘robot’ obviously had a faulty algorithm. Nevertheless, I had the photo redone and submitted the new one. It was rejected again.

As I knew the photo was a good likeness and met all the criteria I decided to submit my application with the ‘rejected’ photo. From thereon the service was extremely efficient.

Tracking your application

You can choose to ‘track’ progress of your application by receiving either an email or a text message. I chose both. Sure enough I received messages such as that my application had been received, that my expiring passport had been received (a condition), that my application had been accepted, and finally that my new passport had been despatched. All very efficient. It arrived a day after the final message and my cancelled ‘old’ passport a couple of days later.

The ‘new’ passport has an increased number of security features which I’m sure will make it extremely difficult to forge or to change. Among these are that the extra pages are really ‘pretty’, featuring scenes such as ‘iconic British innovations’.

So, all-in-all an excellent service but that photo recognition robot needs a brain transplant!

PS. I have no idea why the IPad changed the colour of the passport cover from maroon to blue; we’re not out of the EU yet.