Can You Smile In A Passport Photo?

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Sun Oct 8 2017

Applying for the travel documents necessary for international exploration can be quite a confusing process. Between passports and visas, there are all kinds of guidelines and regulations that one needs to be aware of as they enter the application process and prepare for an adventure abroad. Taking a passport photo, for instance, might sound like a simple concept, but there are many rules that one must follow as they capture their self-portrait.


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self portrait passport 1 - Can You Smile In A Passport Photo?

Passports serve not only as a place to stamp visas that allow you to enter certain countries, but they serve as a form of identification and proof of citizenship. This means a photo is required in your passport application to ensure that you can be properly identified. That being said, it’s crucial that your photo does not show you making any silly or unnatural expressions.

If you’re wondering whether or not you’re allowed to smile for your passport photo, the answer is that it depends on the type of smile you’re going for. If you want to show off a wide grin, you’re going to have to save that for another occasion. Only a slight, natural smile is acceptable in a passport photo, and neutral expressions are actually preferred.

There are guidelines beyond those regarding your facial expression. You must face the camera directly with your entire face visible, not to be obstructed by hair or clothing, and both of your eyes must be completely open. It’s acceptable for infants to have their eyes partially or completely closed in their photos, but older children and adults may not have their eyes closed in the slightest.

In addition to your eyes being completely open, they must also be completely visible. You may not wear any glasses, including sunglasses, tinted glasses, and prescription glasses. If you cannot remove your glasses for medical reasons, you must include a statement from your doctor when you submit your application. Hats, hoods, and headwear should be removed as well, not including headwear that is worn for medical or religious purposes. A signed statement from your doctor should be included with passport photos that include medical headwear, and photos that include religious headwear should be submitted alongside a statement verifying that the headwear is customarily worn in public as part of a recognized religious tradition. If you are wearing headwear in your photo, it must not cast shadows upon your face or obscure your face or head in any way. You may not be wearing headphones or any sort of wireless devices in your photo. You may wear everyday accessories, such as earrings or necklaces, so long as they do not obscure your face or head.

It’s also important that you avoid wearing any uniforms, clothing that resembles a uniform, or camouflage print. Your clothing should be the same as it would be on an average day.

If you’re wondering about natural changes caused by aging, such as the growth of a beard, or unnatural changes such as dyed hair, piercings, or tattoos, don’t fret too much; you should still be recognizable and identifiable. You will only need to apply for a new passport if you’ve grown to look completely different or have body modifications that have drastically changed your appearance. Children will not need to apply for a new passport as they go through the natural aging process.

Infants can have their photo taken while they are laying down, but guidelines are otherwise the same as with older children and adults. No shadows or articles of clothing may obscure their face or head, and no other person should be visible in their photo.

bad passport photo 1 - Can You Smile In A Passport Photo?

The production process is as important as your appearance. You’ll want to make sure you take your photo in front of a solid white or off-white background that’s free of shadows, lines, or patterns of any kind. You should be sure to take your photo in color and have the exposure set to show your skin tone accurately. Make sure that your head is in the center of the photo, with the print size being two inches by two inches (2”x2”) and your head size being between between one inch and 1.4 inches (1” to 1.4”). The camera should be positioned carefully to avoid a fish-eye effect from being too close to you and to avoid making you appear too small to be properly identified. Furthermore, your camera should always be in focus, and your printer settings should be adjusted to avoid any visible printer dots, pixels, or blurriness. Grainy textures or blurry subjects can make it difficult to identify the person in the photo.

You should never crop out your original background and replace it in editing instead of using an original white background. This will alter your body’s outline. The only acceptable photographic alteration is the removal of red eye. Professional photographers will be happy to help you get the perfect passport photo, but these guidelines should always be followed no matter who is taking your photo.

If you’re still lost when it comes to capturing and printing an acceptable photo, you can always reach out to Travel Visa Pro for help! Step inside one of our many offices to get your photo taken, printed, and added to your application. Our team offers a wide variety of expedited passport services, and we’re happy to walk you through your paperwork to ease your worries and ensure that you have a seamless travel experience. Give us a call or explore our website to learn more about how we can help! It’s time for you to pack your bags and let us take care of the hard work.

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