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Canada bans passport smiles
( 2003-08-27 10:35) (Agencies)

Canada has banned the public from smiling or frowning for passport photos, the foreign ministry announced.

Canadians must send a photo with "a neutral expression -- that means no laughing, smiles, frowning," said ministry spokeswoman Suzanne Meunier.

"The mouth must be closed," she added.

The new measure came into force on August 15, but the spokeswoman said the public announcement could not be made because of a huge power cut which hit Ontario province and the northeastern United States at that time.

Meunier admitted that the photo order had caused some controversy. But she said it had become necessary because of a recommendation by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and to make it easier to recognize passport holders.

Still, she said that those who had already sent in pictures showing a toothy smile should not worry.

"We have already received photos with a small smile that we are ready to accept," she said.

But the smile amnesty will run out on November 3, Meunier said. From then on, only serious passport photos will be allowed.

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