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A family's $6,300 vacation was at risk when the passport office lost their daughter's photo and replaced it with the wrong child

Monica Humphries   

A family's $6,300 vacation was at risk when the passport office lost their daughter's photo and replaced it with the wrong child
  • Jasmeen Basi and Dillon Birring spent more than $6,300 on a trip to Egypt.
  • It was their first time together abroad, and their daughters needed passports.

Jasmeen Basi and Dillon Birring's family vacation was quickly approaching.

It would be their first trip abroad as a family of four. At the end of March, they'd travel from their home in England to Egypt on an eight-day trip that cost them about $6,300.

Basi told Business Insider she did everything right. They booked the trip three months in advance, and shortly after, she began the passport application process for herself and her two daughters, Sofia, 5, and Daya, 3.

Basi's passport arrived in about two weeks, and Sofia's took even less time.

But weeks went by, and the family still hadn't received Daya's. Finally, Basi said she got an update from a worker that there had been a mistake: Daya's photo had been misplaced with another child's image.

Representatives for the UK's passport office did not respond to a request for comment from BI. However, in a statement sent to the BBC, a representative said that the "passport processing systems are performing without issues, with over two million applications already processed in 2024."

The representative also added that they had contacted Basi and her family.

A photo mix-up delayed Daya's passport

The UK passport office advises booking trips after a passport has been issued, but Basi said she thought three months was enough time, as the government website states that most are processed within three weeks.

Basi said she sent Daya's documents to the Liverpool passport office on December 22. Then, on January 4, she said she received an email confirming that they received the application and documents.

Once three weeks went by, Basi said she remembers thinking, "I won't panic."

"Then, it was getting nearer and nearer to our date of travel," she added.

Basi said she called the UK government's office, and a worker advised her to apply and pay for a fast-tracked passport, which speeds up the process.

The request was denied with no reasoning, she said.

Each day, Basi called for updates. Finally, with less than two weeks until they left for Egypt, a worker had one.

According to Basi, the worker pulled up the passport, which had an image of a different child.

"The guy on the phone says, 'The picture in front of me is a child that looks much older than 3,'" Basi told BI.

After confirming that her daughter looked like her age, Basi said the worker asked, "Does she have adult teeth?"

It became clear that the picture on Daya's passport wasn't Daya. Instead, it was of a child between 7 and 12 years old.

The office couldn't find the image sent with Daya's application, so Basi rushed to get a new photo sent to the passport office. Then, Basi said the passport office sent this second set to the wrong regional office. With the vacation quickly approaching, Basi mailed a third set of images.

Less than 24 hours before their flight, Basi said the family was informed the passport had been printed and was ready at the London office. She canceled work, took her daughter out of preschool, and drove to London to get the passport.

On top of time, Basi said this mishap cost her family more money than they initially planned with printing and mailing multiple sets of images. These costs come when the price of getting a UK passport continues to rise. This March, the UK government announced that another cost increase is expected to occur in April.

Now, Basi is left wondering where her daughter's pictures went

On Friday, the family left for Egypt, and while Basi is thrilled all four family members will be able to vacation together, she said it's still unsettling not knowing where Daya's image went.

"The other issue is that they can't tell me where my daughter's picture is. They don't know if it's been attached to someone else's passport application. They can't locate the child whose photo was attached to my daughter's application," she said. "So, in terms of a data breach and where our child's picture is, they just can't tell me."

Basi said she had filed at least three complaints now, but it's been radio silence from the passport office.

"It's definitely anxiety-inducing," she said.

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