How To Take The Perfect Passport Picture

Did you know incorrect photos are the number one reason passport applications are delayed? Since passports are valid for 10 years, you want to make sure you like your passport photo enough to travel with it for a decade. Passport photo requirements have changed over the past few years, so we have all the updates for you to take the perfect passport picture. We answer all your frequently asked questions regarding passport photos.

Can I Smile In My Picture?

Any exaggerated facial expressions are not accepted. You must keep a neutral face but you can have a light, natural smile. Make sure your grin doesn’t show any teeth.

Can I Wear My Glasses In My Passport Picture?

No glasses are acceptable, so please take them off. If you cannot remove them for medical reasons, get a signed statement from your doctor and submit it with your passport application.

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What Clothes Should I Wear?

Take the picture in what you normally wear every day. The photo will only show your shoulders and up, so anything below your waist won’t be seen. You are not allowed to wear a uniform, any shirts that look like a uniform or any type of camouflage.

Can I Wear A Hat?

Since your full face must be visible, no hats are allowed. If you wear head clothing for medical or religious purposes, make sure it is not covering nor casting a shadow on any part of your face and isn’t obscuring your hairline.

Please note: You must submit a signed statement that verifies the head clothing is part of recognized, traditional religious attire and you must constantly wear the head clothing in public. If your head clothing is for a medical use, submit a signed doctor’s statement verifying the item is used daily for medical purposes.

Can I Use A Picture I Took A Few Years Ago?

No. You might have a favorite photo that fits all the requirements, but if it’s a few years old, it will not be accepted. Your picture needs to be taken within 6 months of submitting your application. Your appearance can’t have any significant changes.

What Constitutes A “Significant Change” In My Appearance?

You need to be identified from the photo. Growing a beard or dyeing your hair would not constitute a significant change. Undergoing major facial surgery or trauma, adding or removing large facial piercings and tattoos or experiencing major weight loss or gain DO count as a significant change.

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I Want To Take My Own Passport Picture. What Do I Need To Know?

It’s easier than you think and can save you a few bucks. Your full face must be in view and your head must face the camera directly. Do not tilt or turn your head and make sure your eyes are looking directly at the camera. The background of the picture must be plain and uniform, with only a white or an off white color behind you.

What Are The Size Requirements For Printing Out My Picture?

The picture must be 2 inches by 2 inches. Your head must be between 1 inch to 1.4 inches from the bottom of your chin to the top of your head and be centered in the photo. Basically, your head should take up most of the white space of the photo. The US Department of State has a great website where you can crop your photo to the correct requirements. Print your photo in color and on high quality paper. (Matte or glossy is fine.)

Helpful hint: Your camera should be at least 4 feet from your head to take the perfect passport picture, so you don’t get a fish eye distortion from being too close

Can I Digitally Alter My Photo?

Mostly no.  Cropping out a background or touching up any part of the photo isn’t allowed, but if you need to fix your red eye, you can digitally retouch your photo.

When taking your picture, stand up straight, roll your shoulders back, and think of something happy, like the next vacation you and your new passport are going on! Stick to the guidelines and you’ll have your passport in hand and you’ll be ready to travel the world in no time.


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