How much are passport photos?

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Mon Mar 2 2020

If you’re applying for a U.S. passport for the first time or renewing yours after ten years, you’re going to need to make sure you have the right photo. This means a picture taken in the last six months and sized accordingly.

While there are a few ways to cut down on the cost of these photos, many people applying for a passport usually leave taking them until the last minute. In some cases, they forget entirely. Here are some ways of taking passport photos with consideration to cost.


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Taking passport photos at a pharmacy


This is one of the most popular options out there for passport applicants who don’t have the time to visit a photo studio or passport center during normal business hours. Pharmacy photo centers across the United States are usually open late and can get you a set of 2-4 photos for a set price.

However, the price can vary significantly. In most cases, be prepared to pay approximately 10-20 USD.


Taking passport photos at a passport agency or post office


Some branches of the U.S. Postal Service, in addition to accepting passport renewal applications, offer passport photos on site. As of March 2020, this fee is 15 USD.

Regional passport agencies that accept first-time applications sometimes offer automated machines or photo services in the same building. Rarely are these services available in the office itself; bring your own photos to ensure a smoother application process.


Taking free passport photos at home


Do you have a decent camera and a photo printer? Good news — you’ve just significantly cut down the cost of your passport photos.

While taking a passport photo sounds simple enough, there is a reason many people go to pharmacies for this service. Making sure your head is aligned just right, you’re wearing the correct clothes, and nothing is obscured can sometimes be overlooked by those who just want a quick photo.

However, a number of requirements exist for passport photos concerning clothing and eyewear. The US Department of State even has rules covering facial expressions. Let’s look over some of these passport photo requirements.


Clothing and headwear


Anyone posing for a passport photo can wear any type of clothing they like, provided it doesn’t meet the definition of a uniform: no military uniforms, no maintenance jumpsuits, and no cheerleaders. Those who prefer camouflage also run the risk of having their photo rejected.

With the exception of headwear worn for medical or religious purposes, your head and face should be completely visible. For the former, your doctor may need to include a statement saying anything you’re wearing is medically necessary. For the latter, you’ll need proof the clothing is customarily worn in public as part of a recognized religion.

Can you smile or close your eyes?


Only a slight, natural smile is acceptable for U.S. passport photos, and you can’t show any teeth. If you’re uncertain whether yours is allowed, try a neutral expression.

Both eyes should be completely open when taking a passport photo. While children under the age of five aren’t explicitly required to open their eyes, it is preferable. Adults cannot wear anything over their eyes, including eyepatches (unless medically necessary), sunglasses and prescription glasses.


Other medical issues


What if you have to wear a hearing aid, or are confined to a wheelchair? In most cases, a doctor’s note will suffice for anything that violates typical passport photo requirements. Devices like hearing aids or prosthetics are allowed, while airpods or any other unnecessary technology are not.


Body modifications


If you’re a traveler who frequently dyes their hair and wears piercings, you don’t need to worry. Tattoos and piercings don’t need to be hidden or removed for a passport photo.

In fact, the closer to your day-to-day appearance the photo is, the better it looks for immigration. If you have had significant plastic surgery or tattoos applied above your neck, you may need a new photo at your next renewal.

Once you feel you’ve satisfied all these requirements, it’s time to pose. Make sure you’re standing in front of a white background. Photos can be cut to 2×2-inch squares, with your head positioned “between 1 -1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.” Just cut two passport photos for your application, and you’re all set.

Do you have any other questions about the cost of passport photos?