At G3, we’ve been helping travelers get expedited passports since 1994, and that means we’ve seen a LOT of passport photos. The clothes, accessories, and hairstyle you choose for your passport photo can make the difference between a passport you love and one that makes you cringe every time you pull it out. Pick the wrong items, and your photo might even be rejected by the State Department!
Today we’ll review the items that you aren’t allowed to wear in your passport photo. We’ll also share our recommendations for the kind of attire that will help you get the best photo for your new passport.
These Items Will Get Your Passport Photo Rejected
There are some things you might wear in your passport photo that you’ll regret in years to come. That too-trendy haircut or neon green sweatshirt might be embarrassing someday, but they don’t violate State Department rules. But there are some things that you are absolutely forbidden to wear in your passport photo. Wearing any of the items listed below can cause your passport photo to be rejected, and your passport won’t be issued until you provide a photo that meets government standards.
The State Department changed their rules last fall, and you may no longer wear any type of glasses in your passport photo. Take your glasses off before the camera snaps!
All types of uniforms are forbidden in the photo you submit for your passport. No military uniforms, flight crew uniforms, or professional uniforms can be worn. You’ll need to wear regular street clothes in your photo.
Hats and Headgear
No hats are allowed in passport photos unless it is religious headgear such as a headscarf or yarmulke that you wear every day. If you do wear religious headgear, you’ll need to make sure that it isn’t covering your face at all. For example, you may wear a hijab scarf, but not a niqab that covers most of your face. You’ll also need to submit a letter explaining that you wear the item for religious reasons every day.
Hair That Covers Your Face
When you style your hair for your passport photo shoot, make sure that your entire face is visible. Don’t let your hair drape over your face and obscure your eyes. If you have very long bangs that cover your eyebrows, you should pin them back with bobby pins. It’s best if your ears show, as well, but that won’t cause your photo to be rejected.
Headbands and Large Hair Accessories
Don’t wear headbands or any bulky hair accessories when you go to get your passport photo. We’ve seen too many photos rejected because the applicants were wearing a headband. This rule even applies to those cute baby headbands that so many parents like to put on their infant daughters! You should also avoid any large hair clips, bows, “scrunchies” or ribbons. If you need to pull your hair back, opt for bobby pins or thin ponytail holders.
Wear This, Not That
Over the years, we’ve learned that some kinds of outfits look better in passport photos than others. Below, we’ve listed some of our “best practices” for passport pictures. The suggestions we’ve listed below are not State Department rules, they’re just some guidelines to help you choose the best outfit to wear when you get a photo taken for your passport.
Wear a Collared Shirt, Not a Tank Top
One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing clothes for your photo is that the picture will be cropped when it is printed on your passport. All that will be visible is your face and the area around your collarbone. That’s why we think it’s best to wear a collared shirt or a top with a high neckline. We’ve seen photos in which the applicant wore a tank top or a shirt with a wide v-neck, and on the passport, it looks like they aren’t wearing any clothes at all!
Wear a Color Other Than White
Your passport photo must have a plain white background, so if you wear a white shirt, it may blend into the background and leave you looking like a floating head.
Go For Classic, Not Trendy
You’re going to have your new passport for ten years, and ten years is a long time when it comes to fashion trends! It’s best to opt for clothing, hair, and makeup that is relatively neutral and timeless. Otherwise, your passport might start looking dated long before it expires.
What’s most important, though, is that you choose an outfit that makes you feel confident. As long as you aren’t wearing glasses, headgear, uniforms, or hair in your face, your passport picture will be just fine!