Can growing a beard cause problems in crossing borders?
I just recently renewed my passport with a picture taken just after I shaved. I haven't shaved since (>3 weeks) and I kind of like it. I am even looking into how to maintain a beard, but that is a question for another platform.
Regarding traveling I am a bit worried that I look a bit different now then when I renewed my passport. On all my other photo IDs I don't have a beard either.
Long story short, should I shave before boarding my next flight, or are Immigrations/Customs/Airline staff trained to look through the beard?
It sounds like you intend to spend a few weeks at one border while you grow a beard (-; But seriously "travel beards" are very common among low budget independent travellers.
I have an acquaintance who does a lot of international travel. Occasionally he changes his facial hair. He had his most recent passport photo taken with a mustache and short goatee. He feels like this makes him easier to recognize whether he's bearded or clean shaven.
Obviously, growing a beard and shaving the left/right side off before taking your next batch passport application photo's is the safest bet!
All the answers below seem to cover borders where an official makes the call. For automated borders where it's a camera and face recognition software, e.g. UK "e-passport" gates, people with beard/no beard photo discrepancy seem to have no more trouble than anyone else.
I traveled through 18 countries last year with:
- Clean-shaven passport photo
- Bearded Brazilian Visa photo
- Bearded International Driver's License
When entering Brazil I didn't have a beard, and most of the rest of the time I was bearded traveling with my clean-shaven passport photo. I never had one issue. Doesn't mean you won't but most of the border agents realize that people don't look exactly like their photo.
If you can split the difference in your photo, I'd recommend that, but don't worry about it too much.
What does "split the difference in your photo" mean? Grow a beard and then shave off one side before getting the photo taken? (-;
Actually, I think I'll now change my recommendation to that. :) No, I mean if you haven't gotten the photo taken, don't take it clean shaven or with a 6-month beard. Maybe a week or so of growth so you're in-between. But a half-side-beard would be pretty great for going through customs.