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I need some info. First time having a passport.

I have just received my wife's passport the other day and she has signed her passport with a pen with wet ink base. The signature looks fine but when she filled in the emergency contact information, she smudged it a bit, but because the ink is wet when applied appears on the previous page. It looks faded but now I'm worried she has made it invalid and unable to use.

I have asked HM passport but all they are saying is they can't guarantee if it will be valid or not, and advise to pay for a replacement. I don't really want to do that since I have just got her one.

Can someone please help me out and look at the pictures and tell me if this will be alright before I pay for a replacement.

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  • Thank you. Are you able to answer my question?
    – Kieran
    Jan 20 at 13:46
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    The passport looks fine to me, as long as the first page is fine (photo page) and there are no torn pages, and no other information has been hidden by the ink. Jan 20 at 13:57
  • That’s good, and the passport is new so the information and details are fine with no damaged to them just what the pictures are showing which has me worried.
    – Kieran
    Jan 20 at 14:00
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    @Kieran: no one here can tell you how a specific immigration officer will react. However passports are "working documents" and officers are very used to smudges, stains, dogears, etc. This one looks harmless enough to me. I think it's reasonable to try it and only take action of officers start commenting on it.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 20 at 14:19
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    As long as the photo page is fine I doubt it will give you any trouble. Keep in mind emergency info and address are not standard passport requirements and I can't imagine it being required. Maybe inside the UK only? Or they are just there to facilitate in case of lost or accident.
    – André
    Jan 20 at 16:38

2 Answers 2

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The passport looks fine, and when you travel, you'll both almost certainly have the neatest passports in the queue (right up until the inevitable first time a border official slams it shut after stamping an ink stamp, smudging across and through two pages much worse than anything here!).

It's good to be conscientious about your passport, but the priority is avoiding things an unusually officious official could class as "tampering" or an attempt to obscure or change information: for example, torn-off corners of pages, missing pages, heavily scribbled-out text, or corrective fluid hiding something written before.

In particular, that "emergency contacts" page in the UK passport is optional information: some countries' passports don't even have these, some travelers don't fill it in at all, some pencil it in, some use a loose slip of paper... In years of travel I've never seen a border official pay any attention to mine (not even in backwater border crossings of politically-hostile or bribery-plagued countries where officials have scowled at every page looking for an excuse to make trouble).

Keep in mind that, as contact information, it naturally changes over time: for many people (if they even fill it in at all), it's normal and routine that there may be changes and corrections as they change address etc. The UK passport office acknowledge that this page can get messy, and give advice:

Emergency contact details

On the inside cover at the back of your Passport you have an emergency contact details page. As your passport lasts up to 10 years it's more than likely that those details will change over time. If you need to update these details do not scribble or deface the back page. We suggest you simply draw a line through the previous details and either write the new details directly underneath or on a separate piece of paper. If you decide to use the paper option, do not attach this to passport simply leave this loose piece of paper in the back of your passport, as any kind of correction fluid, glue or items stuck to your Passport can sometimes cause very serious problems with border agencies as it can be classed as "tampering".

That's the sort of thing to be careful about. Border officials aren't strict schoolmasters judging your penmanship, but if you did something like put corrective fluid over the smudge and write it again, or blot it out in what could be viewed as a deliberate attempt to make it illegible, that's where you might theoretically have trouble with an unusually over-zealous official over-applying rules written to catch things like cross-border crime or identify fraud.

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Passports are frequently closed before ink dries. This affects not only marks made with a pen but also inked stamps. Most passport inspectors probably won't even notice it, and those that do will recognize what happened and think nothing of it.

The only people who will make trouble for you are those fishing for a bribe or those who are exceedingly officious. Your likelihood of encountering such people depends on which countries you travel to. The ones fishing for bribes will find something wrong with your passport even if you replace it, or they'll find something else that's wrong.

Your best bet is to stop worrying about it. Try searching online for some pictures of passport stamps and visas and you'll see how messy a well used passport looks. Perhaps this will help to set your mind at ease.

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