How to Take a Passport Photo at Home

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Sat Nov 3 2018

Making sure you have a proper passport photo before walking into an appointment at a regional passport office, applying for a passport renewal through the mail, or entrusting your passport application to Travel Visa Pro is essential. Though it’s true many passport office locations and post offices offer photo services on site, there’s nothing stopping you from taking a regulation-size photo at home if you have a camera and proper photo printer.


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How can you take a passport photo at home?

Assuming you’ve had a passport photo taken at a pharmacy or photo studio before, you probably know the basic requirements: having a white background and clothing with contrasting colors. However, there are other considerations, from the expression on your face to your tattoos and piercings, if any.

Facial expressions

Some passport photo requirements are common sense: face the camera directly, with your face completely unobstructed; show only a neutral expression or a closed-mouth smile; have both eyes open.

Can I wear glasses?

Prior to November 2016, anyone applying for a US passport could wear their prescription eyewear without any problems. Now, anyone with vision problems will have to limit themselves to contacts or just remove their glasses for the photo. Sunglasses may never be worn, nor can more unique eyewear like monocles.

Religious clothing

Normally, no hats, neckerchiefs, or anything obstructing the view of your face or head may be worn in passport photos. However, if anyone wears a head covering for religious purposes, he or she may present a signed statement that recognizes such attire is required as a member of their faith. Even with these exceptions, clothing that covers the face – for example, a niqab worn by Muslim women – may not be used for passport photos.

Medical reasons

People with only one eye or facial deformities are still allowed to travel, naturally, but they should be aware of how the passport photo requirements affect them. Sometimes there is a medical reason for wearing a hat or covering parts of the face.

Eyepatches or any bandages covering the scalp may be worn as long as the applicant presents a doctor’s statement. If you already hold a passport, but recently had an accident involving significant (and permanent) scarring, it’s best to get a new passport photo to reflect this. Getting a new passport photo is often necessary after any plastic surgery on the face.

Are any hairstyles restricted for passport photos?

Any hairstyle may be worn in a passport photo, provided it fits within the frame and doesn’t significantly obstruct the view of your face; excessive bangs or dreadlocks may need to be brushed out of the eyes. By the same token, you don’t need a new passport photo if you have a new hairstyle.

Tattoos and Piercings

If you’ve recently had any new facial or neck tattoos, you may be required to get a new passport photo. There is no limit to the number of piercings in passport photos, but they should reflect your typical appearance.

Other clothing

Camouflage patterns of any kind are not allowed in passport photos. Suits, dresses, T-shirts, and polo shirts may all be worn in passport photos without any problems. However, anyone with clothing resembling any type of uniform – this includes the US military and law enforcement – will have their photo denied.

Hearing aids and other tech

No one is allowed to wear devices like headphones, earbuds, or hands-free technology in their passport photo. However, if you’re required to wear hearing aids on a regular basis, they may be worn in photos taken at home.

For children…

The most commonly taken passport photos at home aren’t for adults looking to save a few dollars, but parents of infants who know how their children would react in photo studios with strangers. The US Department of State requires that children are posed the same way as adults: head centered in the photo, eyes open.

Parents with children under 12 months old may consider having them lie on a white blanket with the parent positioned above to take the photo; newborns and particularly young children do not have to have their eyes open, but it is preferable.

Printing and cutting your passport photo

As long as the photo is sized correctly (2×2 inches), the photo was taken in the last six months, and it is framed correctly, then there’s no reason one of the photos meeting the above requirements can’t be used in a passport application.

Do you have any questions about how to take a passport photo at home? Leave them in the comments!

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