Your passport photo doesn’t need to be a grim mug shot. With a bit of attention to detail, you can have your next passport photo be one you’ll be proud to display while traveling. The US State Department has strict guidelines for passport photos, and our team at G3Passports.com can advise you on how to make sure your photo will be accepted. But beyond that, we’ve learned what sets a great passport photo apart from one that is merely OK.
Basic Passport Photo Requirements
Photo problems are one of the top reasons that passport requests can be delayed. The photo you submit with your passport application must meet all of the following official guidelines:
- Must be printed in color on photo paper.
- Must be 2″x2″ in size, and your face in the printed photo must measure between 1″ to 1 3/8″ from the top of your head to the bottom of your chin.
- The background must be plain white.
- Your photo must be well lit, with no harsh shadows.
- Your face must be looking directly at the camera, and your expression must be neutral (eyes open, closed mouth, no large smiles.)
- You may not wear sunglasses or tinted glasses, uniforms of any sort, hats or other headgear. If you wear religious headgear on a daily basis, you must submit a letter explaining the religious purpose of your headgear.
- The photo must be new, taken within the last six months. You may not submit a photo you’ve used on a previous passport.
Getting Dressed for Your Passport Photo
Since a passport photo just shows your face and a small slice of your upper body, you might think it doesn’t matter what you wear in the photo. While you could be wearing a bathing suit or a tutu on the lower half of your body and no one would be able to tell, it’s worth it to choose your top carefully.
For both men and women, we recommend that you choose professional attire for your passport photo. Whether you’re traveling for tourism or business, it’s always appropriate for your passport to look professional. Collared shirts are always a good choice, and tank tops are not!
Women should be particularly aware of the neckline of the shirt they wear in the passport photo. Avoid necklines that are very wide or very deep, to make sure you don’t look naked when your photo is cropped.
The color you wear should also be considered carefully. Since the background of your photo will be white, a white shirt can blend right in to the backdrop. Select a color that makes you feel your best!
Take a moment to check your hairstyle as well. If you have long hair, it’s best to brush it back behind your shoulders so your ears are visible. Don’t wear any headbands, ribbons, or scarves in your hair, as these can be considered “headgear” and can be grounds for your photo to be rejected.
Finally, don’t be afraid to wear makeup! Although you don’t want to wear anything outlandish, it’s a good idea to wear some makeup to cover up undereye circles or blemishes, even out your skin tone, and enhance your features. Even men can wear a little concealer or shine-reducing powder. Any makeup you wear will look more subtle in the photo than it does in the mirror. Matte finishes will look better in the photo than shiny or sparkly cosmetics.
Strike a Pose
When it’s time to face the photographer’s lens, sit up straight and look directly at the camera. Although you aren’t allowed to smile widely, try not to frown or look unhappy. and open your eyes wide so you will look alert.
Many shops that offer passport photo services will only take one shot, so if you want more control over your passport photo, you can take your own! You’ll need a good-quality digital camera and a well-lit area with a plain white or off-white wall. Take as many photos as you like, and then choose the one you like best. You can use an online photo editing service like IDphoto4you.com to format your photo to State Department guidelines. (Please note that you are NOT allowed to PhotoShop your photos to edit out flaws!) After formatting your photos, you can either print them at home using a color printer and photo paper, or you can have them printed at a local shop that prints photos.
We look forward to seeing your great new passport photos!