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An Embarrassing US Passport Renewal Mix-Up

Feb. 29, 2016
3 min read
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An Embarrassing US Passport Renewal Mix-Up
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Imagine sending your precious passport in for a renewal and getting it back with someone else's face on it. Unbelievably, that's what happened to TPG Intern Raven Brunson. Here's her incredible story.

I was planning an amazing trip to Paris with one of my friends and as we were going through our pre-departure check list, I realized my passport had expired. Millions of passports are issued every year, so I figured this wouldn't be a problem and headed off to the post office to send in my renewal info. I left feeling happy that I was ahead of schedule and because my passport photo had turned out more like a glamour shot than a mug shot.

Fast-forward to two weeks later when my information is sent back to me. Apparently my photo was taken from too far away and could not be used as a photo ID. Poof goes my glamour shot. I quickly send out my passport information again, this time with a horrid mugshot of an ID photo.

As it turns out, our trip fell through and I never got to go to Paris. Trying to get a refund on my ticket was hectic enough and I was eventually only able to get my taxes reimbursed. The situation hit rock bottom, but on the bright side, I did need to get my passport renewed anyway so no big loss, right?

Wrong. A few weeks later, my passport is delivered. Wait, let me rephrase that: My information is displayed on my passport, but not my face. I may be blond haired and blue eyed, but this girl in the picture was not me.

I somehow received a passport with someone else's photo.
I somehow received my renewed passport with someone else's photo instead of my own.

I spent the next few days calling and calling the National Passport Information Center trying to reach an operator that will take my story seriously. No one has ever heard of this happening before, no one believes me and asking "Are you sure?" really doesn’t do much good. Am I sure that this photo is not of my face? Yes I am.

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After a week, I ended up going to speak to someone in person at the Connecticut Passport Agency in the hopes that someone there would be able to understand the situation and help me correct it. After going through an airport-like security system and having to explain why I was there, I was finally sent upstairs and eventually passed off from one employee to another since, spoiler alert, they don't believe me either, even with passport in hand. The last woman looked on the computer, found not a single trace of this other girl’s face and called her supervisor, then her supervisor's supervisor — all while looking at me like I had five heads.

In the end, they took the mistake passport back and promised expedited shipping for the return of my corrected one — which didn’t even come on time by the way. Maybe it’s a good thing my Paris trip was cancelled. It's not like I would have had my passport in time anyway.

To this day, I am still worried there will be a security check gone wrong and I will be locked up and accused of forging my passport due to this ridiculous security breach. Until then, I will wait patiently for October 2024 to have a second-go at that glamour shot.