Glasses banned from new Australian passport photos after July 2018

By David Flynn, May 28 2018
Glasses banned from new Australian passport photos after July 2018

The Australian Passport Office will ban glasses from passport photos from July 1, 2018, citing specs as a major impediment to accurate computer matching of the person with their passport photo.

"Research has shown that glasses adversely affect passport facial matching," the Australian Passport Office says. "Matching is more accurate without glasses," which in turn “further strengthens the integrity of the Australian passport."

The SmartGate terminals at Australia's international airports currently allow incoming passengers to leave prescription glasses on while their photo is snapped at the gate, provided they're also wearing glasses in their current passport photo and as long as the frames are thin.

"Thick rimmed glasses can affect arrivals SmartGate's ability to compare your image with your ePassport photograph, so it is better to remove them, if possible," the APO advises.

But from July 1 all new passport photos must be taken sans specs, although the APO allows that "a limited exemption for medical reasons may apply where supported by a medical certificate."

This can include cases of recent eye surgery and severe sensitivity to light, but vision impairment alone – the reason most people wear glasses – will not be accepted as a reason for medical exemption.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 273

I'm just surprised this was still allowed at all - most countries around the world don't allow this already.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2016

Total posts 14

I'm pretty sure at the smartgates, there is a symbol that suggests you are not allowed to wear glasses when you pass through. Let alone having glasses on a passport photo in the first place?!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2016

Total posts 4

My glasses have a slight tint in them so have been unable to use them in passport photos for years. I am Ok with taking them off but really wish the smartgate system was better designed. The small print on the screen is almost impossible to read with the glasses off and a simple red cross or green tick to show success or failure would be helpful given most of us wear glasses because we need them.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Apr 2012

Total posts 57

Could not wear mine for either the new Passport, October 2017 or entering via Smart Gates :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jan 2015

Total posts 71

Interestingly the SmartGates in NZ do allow you to leave your glasses on, regardless of whether if you were wearing specs on your passport photo. Also (and slightly off-topic), can we please follow NZ and get rid of those SmartGate tickets.


15 Mar 2016

Total posts 17

I'm confused by this article appearing here and elsewhere - I wasn't allowed to wear my glasses when re-newing in 2009 !

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 47

Exactly... My current passport (from mid 2012) is no glasses...

30 May 2018

Total posts 1

Agree with the previous comments regarding not being allowed to wear glasses for passport photo, so I am wondering what is new. More importantly, the smartgates coming into Melbourne seem to recognise, but I fail to leave Melbourne via the smartgates every time, (with or without glasses) so there is clearly a difference in the settings for the cameras. It is now a standing joke.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2018

Total posts 1

I renewed my passport early 2017 and for the first time was told that a "glasses on" photo was permitted. I travel to the States and Europe fairly regularly and always wear my glasses at the gates. Never have a problem.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 413

Not sure why this has suddenly come into focus. I have never been allowed to wear my specs for my passport pictures. Can't believe someone in authority has raised an eyebrow about this unless they are just trying to make a spectacle of themselves and to be seen as serious.

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 47

Whoever it is needs to go to the room of mirrors and have a good, hard look at themselves...

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 5

I think theres a much better story in why there are not enough smartgates to handle the increasing numbers at Sydney airport or the increasing security at Sydney airport. Its starting to feel like Nazi Germany when you fly from Sydney to Dallas, layer upon layer of security checks !

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