How To Take A Passport Photo

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Thu Oct 5 2017

If you’re preparing to embark on an international adventure, you’re going to need to apply for a passport if you don’t already have one or if you’re in need of a renewal. The passport application process requires you to include a portrait of yourself, and this photo must adhere to certain guidelines.

passport application process 1 - How To Take A Passport Photo


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Appropriate Posing

When posing for your passport photo, you should be facing the camera directly with your entire face in sight. You may not use a side profile or have part of your face covered or turned away. As for your facial expression, you must hold either a neutral expression or a natural smile. You should look exactly as you would when encountered on the street at random, so do not make any silly expressions or have a wide, forced smile. Both of your eyes must be open. If you’re submitting an application for an infant, it is acceptable for their eyes to be closed or partially closed, but children should otherwise have their eyes open entirely.

Attire and Accessories

You should wear clothing that you would normally wear out on the street in your passport photo. No uniforms are allowed, nor are any articles of clothing that resemble uniforms. You may not wear camouflage print.

Your eyes must be clearly visible in your passport photo. You may not wear sunglasses or tinted glasses. Even if you wear prescription glasses, you must remove them for your passport photo. If you cannot remove them due to medical reasons, a signed statement from your doctor must be included with your application. You should not be wearing a hat, headscarf, or hood of any kind, apart from headwear that is worn for religious or medical reasons. If you are wearing religious headwear in your photo, you must include a statement with your application verifying that the headwear is customarily and/or required to be worn in public continuously as part of a recognized religious tradition. If you have headwear that is worn for medical purposes, you must include a signed statement from your doctor with your application that verifies that the headwear is worn daily for medical reasons. Headwear worn for either of these purposes must not cast shadows upon your face or obscure any part of your head or face, including your hairline.

You may not wear any headphones or wireless devices in your photo. Everyday accessories such as necklaces and earrings are acceptable so long as they do not obscure any part of your face.

Some people wonder when their natural and unnatural physical changes will lead to the need for an updated passport photo. If you’ve grown a beard over time, have gotten a haircut, or have dyed your hair, you should still be recognizable when compared to your original photo. If your physical appearance is extremely different for reasons such as surgery, changes in weight, or a number of piercings and/or tattoos, you might need to apply for a new passport. A child’s gradual, natural aging process will not require them to apply for a new passport.


The easiest way to capture a small child’s passport photo is to lay them on top of a white sheet or cover their car seat with a white backdrop. Photos of children must adhere to the same guidelines as those of adults. Photos must be free of shadows, unnatural facial expressions, or clothing that obscures the child’s face. No other person should be visible in the child’s passport photo. It is acceptable for infants to have their eyes closed completely or partially, but older children must have their eyes open.

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Background and Printing

Your photo’s background should be solid white or off-white with no shadows, lines, or patterns. The photo must be in color and have proper exposure that accurately shows your skin tone. Your head should be in the center of the photo, and the print should be two inches by two inches (2”x2”) big, meaning your head should be sized between one inch and 1.4 inches (1” to 1.4”). If the camera is positioned too far from you, your head will appear too small and it may become more difficult to identify you. If the camera is too close to you, it can create a fish-eye effect and distort your appearance, causing you to appear differently in the photo than you do in real life.

The photo quality should be sharp with no visible printer dots, pixels, or blurriness. Printer dots and visible pixels can cause the photo to appear grainy and make it more difficult to identify you. Similarly, blurriness removes the focus from your facial features and makes it hard to identify you as well. Make sure the camera is in focus before you take the photo, and use a tripod and remain very still to avoid motion blur.

If you’re having trouble while printing, you can try increasing your printer’s resolution (dots per inch) or use higher quality ink, paper, and settings.


You may not crop out the original background and replace it in post-production. This will alter your body’s outline. You should not alter your physical appearance in any way. You may fix red eye, but that is the only alteration that will be accepted.

There are professional photographers who are able to help you snap the perfect passport photo, but you may take the photo at home if you desire! Regardless of who your photographer is or where you decide to capture the image, you’ll want to follow these guidelines in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly as you prepare for your next big adventure.

If you are looking for help capturing an appropriate and professional passport photo, however, you may visit one of Travel Visa Pro’s many office locations to get your photo taken and printed! We also offer a wide variety of other passport services, including expedited services, and are here to walk you through the application process and ease your worries. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about how we can assist you! It’s time to pack your bags and let us handle the hard work.