Passport blunder sees photo rejected for 'closed eyes'

(Richard Lee / Facebook)
(Richard Lee / Facebook)
Passport blunder sees photo rejected for 'closed eyes'

(Richard Lee / Facebook)

The Department of Internal Affairs has found itself in a bit of a blunder after a young Asian man submitting a photo for his passport had it rejected due to 'closed eyes'.

Richard Lee is a Kiwi living in Australia and was renewing his passport so he could return to the country after visiting for Christmas.

But when he submitted his photo to the Department of Internal Affair's online checker, it was rejected because it says his eyes were closed.

When Mr Lee called, he was told it was rejected due to the shadow in his eyes and "uneven lighting".

He went back to Australian Post and took some new photos, one of which was accepted, and his new passport showed up on Wednesday.

But while some have called the system 'racist', Mr Lee isn't taking it so seriously.

"I thought it was hilarious, not racist at all," Mr Lee told Newshub.

"It's pretty impressive that in the past 80 years we've gone from Turing Machines to a computer that could read a human face and notice the eyes are a bit smaller."

An Internal Affairs spokesperson told Newshub around 20 percent of photos are rejected for a variety of reasons, and the error Mr Lee received - that his eyes were closed - is just a generic error message.

"It would be impossible to have an error message for every circumstance," the spokesperson said.

"Photos are rejected for a wide variety of reasons but we don't believe our systems discriminate against any specific set of individuals."

Mr Lee's photo went viral after he posted it on his Facebook page, and he says he didn't expect it to get so big.

"I posted it as I found it funny and it's good banter for my friends," he said.

And he and his friends had a bit of fun with the error message was posted online, sharing edited images which showed larger eyes.

Passport blunder sees photo rejected for 'closed eyes'

"Wish me luck," he wrote while sharing a photo with a Snapchat filter that had warped his face.

Passport blunder sees photo rejected for 'closed eyes'

Mr Lee says it's been great to see a number of Kiwis and Australians getting involved and commenting on the blunder.

"It's also great to see how many of my fellow Asians saw the funny side and was able to laugh about it," he said.

"At the end of the day, we're all different and how you let people's comments affect you is your own choice."

Internal Affairs says the New Zealand passport system is "one of the most technically advanced in the world" and says if customers are concerned about their photos, they should check resources available on the department's website.