Confusing a major American airport for a Taiwanese travel hub seems unlikely in official government documents, but that’s exactly what happened with Taiwan’s new e-passports.
An exterior shot of Washington Dulles International from the American capital made it onto the background of Taiwan’s newly issued digital passports. It was supposed to be a shot of Taoyuan International Airport.
Here’s the since-recalled passport:
— 張Will (@2880e014) December 27, 2017
To be fair, a quick search in Google Images for the Taiwan airport brought up a Dulles photo mislabeled as Taoyuan. The fourth image looks like the image on the passport and comes from an article listing ” 10+ best airports to spend a long layover .” No. 10 is Taiwan Taoyuan International with the Dulles image.
Apparently a passport designer “had mistakenly chosen a photo of Dulles to represent Taiwan’s main gateway,” Focus Taiwan reported.
The two airports look somewhat similar, but not identical. Viewing both from Google Street View shows how they could be mistaken, but also how different they look.
Washington Dulles International Airport
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced the new biometric passports would be issued starting on Christmas Day. Its description of the “next-generation” passports included this: “the inner pages show background images of landmarks and cultural customs, all symbolic of a dynamic Taiwan.”
With the American airport snuck in there, the agency quickly recalled the 285 that had already gone out by Tuesday. But it was too late to stop the presses — 200,000 had already been printed.