A few weeks ago, I won £30 on the lottery, then the following week I won another £30. According to my internet calculator the odds of this happening are 1 in 9409. The odds of going to hospital with a pogo stick injury are fairly similar. Anyway, I resisted the temptation of more lottery tickets and spent my winnings on replacing my expired passport. Not because I want to go abroad but not having any ID makes life complicated. I couldn’t get my covid pass because of it so I lost my position at the care home. Also, it means I can’t get another job without it so it seems sensible that I should spend my ‘windfall’ on something useful rather than on chocolate buttons or subscriptions to magazines I will never read.
Like many things in the modern era, people wanting passport renewal services are ‘strongly encouraged’ to do so online. It is cheaper than going to the post office and saves all the trauma with those passport photo booths (one of the most intimidating pieces of machinery ever invented) and trying to remember how to write a cheque.
The first part is very easy, simply enter my name, address, date of birth and the number of my expired passport. So far, so good. Then comes the digital picture section. The rules on the government website for what makes a valid photo are extremely lengthy. Some of them are obvious ‘Your photo must be clear and in focus’ and ‘be in clear contrast to the background’. Others made me smile such as the instructions for the photo to be ‘in colour, unaltered by computer software’, ‘taken in the last 30 days’ and ‘must not contain other people’ thinking of the type of people who are submitting black & white CGI fashion shots. Of course, smiling itself is also forbidden. Others were a complete mystery to me like the specifications to be ‘at least 600 pixels wide and 750 pixels tall and at least 50KB and no more than 10MB’. Anyone who understands that is far smarter than me.
The photo is uploaded and checked automatically, and of course everything I submitted was rejected due to ‘the direction of the shadow’ or the ‘size of the background’. I tried to crop out the background and then failed again ‘Do not crop your photo – it will be done for you’. On my fifth attempt, I got the note ‘it is possible your picture will be accepted’. Possible?
So now I have to post off the expired passport and wait. I got a message to say my application was accepted on 24th August and by late-September still hadn’t heard a thing. I clicked on the ‘speed up my application’ button and found out that since it was less than ten weeks, there was nothing that could be done. Ten weeks? It would be quicker to make my own passport.
Incidentally, while researching odds of winning the lottery multiple times, I discovered the odds of winning £30, three weeks in a row are 1 in 88,529,281. This is slightly higher than the odds of being hit by sewage dropped from an airline. A scenario significantly more pleasurable than having to submit photographs to the passport office.