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When applying for a passport you will need one passport photo. Passport photos have many requirements behind them and are one of the top ten reasons for suspension and delays during the application process. There are certain standards and regulations that have been set for passport photos that include: dimensions, resolution, quality, background colors and what can and cannot be worn. Here are the requirements for getting your passport photos:

Update: Starting November 1st, 2016 – The US Department of State will no longer accept passport photos with glasses.

Passport Photo Requirements

One of the more common reasons for a passport application suspension is improper or inadequate passport photos. Photos that are not the right size, not of high enough quality, or not of the right dimensions. Please follow these passport photo requirements to ensure compliance with the mandated Department of State Passport Agency passport photo rules and regulations. Any deviation from these rules can put your passport application into suspension and will require your to get new passport photos taken.

  • Passport photo dimensions must be 2″ x 2″ (inches). Make sure the photo presents a full head from top of the hair to the bottom of the chin; height of head should measure 1 inch to 1-3/8 inches (25 mm to 35 mm) and eye height is between 1-1/8 inches to 1-3/8 inches (28 mm and 35 mm) from bottom of photo.
  • White or off white background with no interruptions of shadows on the face
  • Must be taken in high resolution and in color (no black and white)
  • Must have been taken in the last 6 months
  • A front view of full face with eyes open and a natural expression
  • Regular everyday cloths with no white shirts or head gear such as head bands or glasses (see Clothing / Attire for Passport Photos Below>

Clothing / Attire for Passport Photos

It does matter what you wear in your passport photo, the following guidelines and requirements apply and cover the most common questions about what you should wear or what can be worn in passport photos. Please be sure not to deviate from the requirements listed.

  • Uniforms cannot be worn in your photo, unless for religious purposes that is worn daily.
  • You cannot wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline, unless worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.
  • Headphones, wireless hands-free devices are not allowed in your photo.
  • If you normally wear prescription glasses, a hearing device or similar articles, they may be worn for your photo.
  • Dark glasses or non-prescription glasses with tinted lenses are only acceptable if you need them for medical reasons (a medical certificate may be required)
  • Glare from your glasses is not acceptable. To avoid a glare you can move them slightly downward and tilt the glasses or by remove the glasses.

Passport Photo Size

As mentioned in the above passport photo requirements, all passport photos must be 2 inch x 2 inch in size. There are no exceptions to this rule!

Where to get passport photos

There are thousands of places to get your passport photos done. You can get them taken at most pharmacies that have photo services like Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid. Many of the acceptance agents / local passport offices also offer passport photos onsite so that you can get them taken when you get your application sealed (if applicable to your type of passport application). And even some private photographers and photo studios also offer passport photo services as this is an easy way for them to supplement their income. Do not use photos from a photo booth, they will get your application suspended.

Passport Photos Cost

Typically no more than $15 but you may be able to get them done for as little as $5. It typically only involves someone snapping one photo on a digital camera and printing them out on a piece of photo paper. Both Walgreens & CVS charge as much as $12.99 – but we have noticed when there are competing stores in close proximity to each other this price can drop significantly. Acceptance agents charge anywhere from $7.99 to $15 (at Post Offices). Shop around or call a local photographer who will be happy to get your business.

Tips for taking pictures of your baby

Taking a standard passport photo of your baby can be a challenge, so please follow the following tips in ensure compliance with the passport photo regulations. Lay your baby on his or her back on a plain white or off-white sheet. This will ensure your baby’s head is supported and provide a plain background for the photo. Make certain there are no shadows on your baby’s face, especially if you take a picture from above with the baby lying down. You can also cover a car seat with a plain white or off-white sheet and take a picture of your child in the car seat. This will also ensure your baby’s head is supported.

Common Questions about Passport Photos & Regulations

Are snapshots, mobile photos or photos from vending machine ok?

No. Snapshots, magazine photos, low-resolution vending machine or mobile phone photos, or full-length photographs are not acceptable.

Can eyeglasses be worn for the photo?

Eyeglasses worn on a daily basis can be worn for the photo. However, be sure there are no reflections from the eyeglasses that obscure the eyes. This can be avoided by slightly tilting your glasses downward or by removing the glasses.

Can I remove the red-eye from my photo?

You may use the red-eye reduction option on your digital camera when you are taking the photo. However, you cannot use any photo editing tool to digitally remove the red-eye from your photo. Passport photos are not allowed to be digitally enhanced or altered to change your appearance in any way.

Can I use a photo from a recent driver license or other official document?

Copied or digitally scanned photos of official documents will not be accepted. In addition, photos must not be digitally enhanced or altered to change your appearance in any way.

Can I wear a hat for the photo?

No. Hat and head coverings are not permitted and should be removed for the photo unless it is worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible in your photo. The head covering should not obscure the hairline and must not cast shadows on the face.

Can I wear a uniform in my photo?

Uniforms, clothing that looks like a uniform, and camouflage attire may not be worn in photos except in the case of religious attire that is worn daily. Otherwise, normal clothing that you wear on a daily basis should be worn. No white shirts.

Can I wear sunglasses or tinted glasses in my photo?

No, sunglasses or tinted glasses may not be worn for your photo. If you need to wear your prescription glasses that have dark on tinted lenses for medical reasons then they may be worn in your photo. However you will need a medical certificate to verify prescription eyewear. If you are applying for a U.S. visa, you may not wear any glasses with dark or tinted lenses for your photo.

Do my photos have to be in color?

Yes, the photos must be in color. Black and white photos will not be accepted.

How large should my head be in the photo?

Your head should be between 1 inch and 1-3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of your chin to the top of your hair. If you are submitting a digital image, then your head should be between 50% and 69% of the image's total height from the top of the head, including the hair, to the bottom of the chin.

How many passport photos must I submit with my passport application?

Only one photo must be submitted per passport application by mail or in-person.

How recent must my photos be?

Your photos must have been taken within 6 months of submitting your application and reflect your current appearance.

Is it acceptable for my child’s eyes to be closed in his/her photo?

No. Please have your child’s eyes open and looking straight ahead towards the camera.

May photos be taken with a digital camera?

Yes, you can use a digital camera. However most webcams and mobile phones cannot provide images of sufficient quality.

What if I recently dyed my hair a new color or grew a beard?

New photos are only required if your appearance has significantly changed from what is in your photo.  Growing a beard or coloring your hair are not considered a significant change.  If you can still be identified from the photo in your current passport or visa application, you do not need to apply for a new passport or submit a new photo for your visa application. However, you may have to apply for a new passport or submit a new photo for your visa application if you have:

  • Undergone significant facial surgery or trauma
  • Added or removed numerous/large facial piercings or tattoos
  • Undergone a significant amount of weight loss or gain
  • Made a gender transition

The acceptance of your photo is at the discretion of the U.S. passport agency where you apply for a passport or U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply for a visa.

What pose should I be in for my photo?

Your photo must be a clear shot of your entire face horizontally centered in the photo. Profile shots or photos not in focus will not be accepted. Your photo must be taken against a plain white or off-white background. Your expression should be neutral with both eyes open and directly facing the camera. Photos with unusual expressions and squinting will not be accepted.

What size must my photos be?

The photo must be exactly 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm).

What type of paper should I print my photos on?

Photos must be printed on photo quality paper. The photo quality paper can be either matte or glossy photo paper.

What’s the best way to take a photo of a baby?

Lay your baby on his or her back on a plain white or off-white sheet. This will ensure your baby's head is supported and provide a plain background for the photo. Make certain there are no shadows on your baby’s face, especially if you take a picture from above with the baby lying down. You can also cover a car seat with a plain white or off-white sheet and take a picture of your child in the car seat. This will also ensure your baby’s head is supported.