When you’ve been in the passport business for as long as we have — 23 years and counting! — you hear some pretty wild reasons for passport damage. If you’ve been following our blog, you know how important it is to keep your passport safe from harm. You’ll also know that one of the most common reasons we see for passport damage is water damage from going through the washing machine. But there are a lot of other ways that a passport can get mutilated other than a trip through the laundry!
Let’s take a look at some other crazy ways that passports have been destroyed.
A few years ago, a passport story went viral on social media. A Chinese man got stuck in South Korea, unable to travel because his four-year-old child had drawn all over the information page of his passport. The pictures were pretty funny, with the dad now sporting crazy Einstein hair, blacked-out eyes, and a goofy beard. As it turned out, that particular story was a hoax, and the “doodles” had been drawn on using photo-editing software. However, this kind of thing really does happen! Every parent knows that a kid with a Sharpie is a dangerous proposition. You don’t want your kid to draw on your passport… or on your walls or sofa!
Soaked in Soda
We’ve said it again and again: water damage to your passport is bad. But water isn’t the only liquid that can cause passport damage! We remember a passport that was ruined after being soaked in lemon-lime soda. The sticky soda stuck the pages together when it dried, and the pages tore when they were pried apart. Torn pages automatically render a passport officially mutilated. The traveler with the lemon-lime passport had to get a new passport through the mutilated passport replacement service.
At least the soda-soaked passport smelled better than passports that get ruined in the next crazy way!
The Dog Ate It. Or Maybe a Bear.
Every once in a while, we’ll get a request for a mutilated passport replacement from someone whose passport was torn up by the family dog. We’ve even had people tell us that their passport was destroyed by a wild animal! If this ever happens to you, you’ll need to gather up all the passport pieces you can find. Stick them in a zip-lock bag. Even if there are only a few pieces of your passport left, you’ll need to submit them with your request for a replacement passport.
Crafty Passport Damage
No one would willfully damage their passport, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. We’ve seen several cases of passport damage resulting from their owners cutting the passport up. Why would someone cut their passport? We’ve heard of people “trimming” the covers of their passports to fit better inside designer passport cases. We’ve also known people who cut pages out of their expired passports — some people thought they could re-use unexpired visas if they cut them out, and others cut out pages to save them in scrapbooks. But even if your passport is expired, do not cut it up! If you cut any pages, you will not be able to use that passport for a passport renewal. You’ll also never be able to use that passport as a proof of citizenship for future passport applications.
The cutest example of crafty passport damage we’ve ever seen was in another international news story. A German couple found out they were expecting their first baby a few days before an international trip, so they cut up one of their expired passports to make a teeny-tiny passport for the fetus. They used an ultrasound image for the passport photo, and even got an immigration official to stamp the mini-passport! Super cute. Super sweet. But don’t do it.