Getting an up to date passport photo is one of the most overlooked documents when it comes time to apply for a passport renewal or request a new one. Luckily, pharmacies, studios, and regional passport offices usually offer to take photos to the proper specifications for a fee.
Most of the standards requirements are common sense: facing the camera directly, with your face completely unobstructed; sport a neutral expression or a closed-mouth smile; have both eyes open. As long as these instructions are followed and the photo is sized correctly (2×2 inches), taken in the last six months, and framed correctly, then there’s no reason it can’t be used in a passport application.
However, what are some special cases when it comes time to decide what to wear for a passport photo? Does the US Department of US explicitly prohibit any clothing or accessories, and if so, what are they?
This one is a relatively new requirement. 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.
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 religion. Even in these circumstances, clothing that covers the face, e.g. niqab, may not be worn.
No one is allowed to wear frivolous devices like headphones, earbuds, or hands-free technology. However, if you’re required to wear hearing aids on a regular basis, they may be worn.
(Not sure what the passport office would make of this…)
Sometimes there is a medical reason for wearing a hat or covering parts of the face. Eyepatches may be worn with a doctor’s statement, as can bandages covering the scalp. If you have had an accident involving significant (and permanent) scarring, it’s best to get a new passport photo to reflect this. Naturally, any plastic surgery on the face is also grounds for getting a new passport photo.
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. Similarly, no change in hairstyle is grounds for needing a new photo.
Piercings and tattoos
Any number of piercings may be worn in passport photos if they are part of your regular appearance. New facial or neck tattoos often require that a new passport photo be taken.
Clothing in general
Suits, dresses, T-shirts, and polo shirts may all be worn in passport photos without any problems. However, any photos with clothing judged to resemble a uniform – this includes the US military and law enforcement – will be denied. Camouflage patterns of any kind are also not allowed.
Children’s passport photos
Due to the nature of the photo and the time involved to get the perfect picture, many parents only feel comfortable taking photos of their infants themselves. Generally, the US Department of State advises that the standards for adults – head centered, eyes open – apply to children. Parents of children under a year 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.
Got any questions on What to Wear For Your Passport Photo?
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