This is not about me but my science teacher back in my junior high school. After performing scientific experiments for most of his lifetime, he lost all his fingerprints and bragged about it.

However, the immigrant gate in many countries requires you to register your fingerprint. In this case, it the person who lost his/her fingerprint denied to the entry? Otherwise, how can those people pass their physical verification check?

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    The term you're looking for is "Adermatoglyphia". There's an interesting article about it here: scientificamerican.com/article/missing-fingerprints
    – JonathanReez
    Mar 20, 2017 at 9:52
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    The Schengen codes make explicit accommodations for those for whom fingerprinting is "physically impossible," which would include someone like your former teacher.
    – phoog
    Mar 20, 2017 at 13:59
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    He might have lost his birth fingerprints but there's still a surface at the tip of each finger which could be photographed and compared on subsequent trips.
    – bye
    Mar 20, 2017 at 14:05
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    "I'm sure I have them in my bag somewhere..." Mar 20, 2017 at 16:23
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    In Panama, my fiancee's grandfather was eventually just waved through after the border guard was too frustrated to get the prints properly (he had the same issue). So YMMV. Mar 20, 2017 at 21:41

5 Answers 5


Biometrics are now more than just fingerprints. Retina/iris scans, face recognition software etc are all being deployed where necessary in lieu of fingerprints.

There are many people who don't have both hands and by extension their fingers however they are able to travel into countries like the USA which typically fingerprint visitors.

From official correspondence between the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) and the UK Border Association (UKBA):

What if the migrant has no fingers or hands? If you are physically unable to provide fingerprints we will take a photograph of the facial image and record on the database the fact that you are physically unable to provide fingerprints.”

The world at large is becoming more and more sensitive and accommodating of people with disabilities and this issue has been considered and accommodations made.


No, fingerprint are "optional". Sometime it is not possible to take them, or some people have not very distinctive fingerprints (as measured on common devices). So there is alternate ways to check identity. Note: it is also possible that the biometric passport don't contain the fingerprints, for the above reason.

Note: it is not the easier method to pass checkpoints, and usually it needs real reasons not to use standard procedures, but there are well know and often used on all airports / checkpoints.

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    The storage of fingerprints in the biometric passport is indeed optional, many countries do not do it, probably because of the difficulty in collecting fingerprints in the first place. Foreign immigration usually stores a copy of the traveller's fingerprints on their own systems [not comparing against the passport], which still ensures that the passport is only used by one traveller and the traveller can be consistently identified even if he uses multiple travel documents.
    – Calchas
    Mar 20, 2017 at 12:32
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    @Calchas It is not optional in Sweden - if you have a temporary finger injury you can only get an emergency passport, if you have a permanent injury a specially endorsed passport is issued
    – Crazydre
    Mar 20, 2017 at 20:24
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    For optional I mean it not from side of bearer of passport, but from side of authorities. Mar 21, 2017 at 8:47
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    @Crazydre My apologies for being unclear, I mean it is "optional" in the sense that a passport issuing authority can choose not to do it but still be in compliance with the ICAO passport regulations.
    – Calchas
    Mar 21, 2017 at 10:02

I know someone who has their biometrics set up for quicker passage through the lines, and then first time out couldn't get their fingerprints to scan properly (because their hands were too dry, I think). The official in charge very calmly went through the rest of the paperwork and processed it just fine without the fingerprints, sending them through.

Fingerprints are fast and easy, this person would have been through quicker if the scanning had worked, but they cannot be required until they are completely hundred percent reliable - not just in scanning but in the machine not freezing up or throwing errors or anything.

Right now, fingerprints will either not-match based on factors that affect the skin - including hydration, blood flow, injury or illness (rashes or the like), swelling, or pruning, or even just dirty, exact way it is pressed or moved against the scanner, and others - or else it will sometimes match falsely based on such errors. Either false negatives, or false positives... or both, that is also a possibility. I had all the same issues when I had a fingerprint scanner on my computer - it was mostly reliable, but not always, and one had to be careful and have other ways in - and I don't imagine the tech has become hundred-percent reliable since then.

So there will be options for those cases where it isn't working - even if, over time, the scanners become reliable enough to make this rather rare, it will still have to be somehow possible to deal with outlying oddball cases.


My mother have disability in her right arm. When entering Singapore, as soon as the immigration officer seen the disability, he immediately waved off and granted entry. No further questions asked.

Fingerprint is not a hard requirement. Immigration officers have a lot of discretion regarding this.


My wife has no fingerprints, yet they try to scan them everywhere and we spend like 30 minutes just waiting for them to realise the fact every time... It starts to be frustrating.

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    Are there any consequences beyond the frustration and delay? Apr 8, 2019 at 9:27

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