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S’porean Man Waits 2 Months For Passport Renewal, Finds Out Photo Had Been Rejected

Man Misses Singpass Notification Telling Him His Passport Renewal Photo Had Been Rejected

As the world recovers from the pandemic, many are now going on vacation. This brought about a surge in the number of people trying to get their passports renewed in time for their trip.

This includes 53-year-old Mr Zhang, who submitted his passport renewal application in April but did not hear any news about it for almost two months.

When he visited the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) building on 25 May, he found out his passport photo had been rejected.

He later realised that he missed a notification about it on the Singpass app as he did not download the app.

Did not hear from ICA for two months

According to Shin Min Daily News, Mr Zhang, a 53-year-old security guard, planned to go on vacation with his wife as soon as the borders were reopened.

They scheduled the trip for 24 Jun. But before they could book the air tickets, he had to get his passport renewed.

At the start of April, Mr Zhang got his photo taken at a Bedok photo studio and sought help from staff at the community centre to upload his details onto the ICA website.

However, after waiting for almost two months, he said he did not receive any updates from ICA.

On 25 May, Mr Zhang went to the ICA building to inquire about his passport renewal. It was then that he found out his passport photo had been rejected.

Missed the Singpass notification

Mr Zhang went to retake his photo and submitted another application. He was informed that he would only get his new passport a month later.


Left with little choice, he had to postpone his vacation plans.

Speaking with the Chinese daily, Mr Zhang said ICA had actually informed him about the rejected photo through a notification on the Singpass app.

However, at that time, he had not even downloaded the app and did not receive the message.

ICA receives over 7,000 passport renewal applications daily

According to Shin Min Daily News, ICA receives over 7,000 passport applications a day. This far exceeds pre-pandemic numbers of 2,000 a day.

At its peak, the authority received about 14,000 applications.

Currently, the average waiting time for a passport is at least six weeks.

But if applications drastically increase or have issues – such as an invalid photo – a longer processing time will be needed.

An ICA spokesperson said passport photo requirements are based on the standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

This ensures that Singapore passports will be deemed acceptable by all countries’ immigration authorities.

The following are the requirements for passport photos:

  • must be taken within the last three months
  • must be taken with even brightness
  • facial expression should be natural with mouth closed
  • must be clear, focused, and un-pixelated
  • shoulders and hair must be fully visible
  • background must be white
  • eyes must be fully visible and looking at the camera

You can find more detailed guidelines here.

Ensure you have ample time to renew your passport before trips

Having to put vacation plans on hold due to such errors in passport applications can be disappointing.

If you plan to travel out of the country soon, do ensure you have ample time to renew your passport before your trip.

You may also want to turn on your Singpass notifications to ensure that you won’t miss any important updates.

Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at

Featured image adapted from Shin Min Daily News and MS News.

Sabrina Seng

Sabrina is always facing some form of existential crisis but other than that, she's pretty chill.

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