Passport Photos

Everything You Need to Know About U.S. Passport Photos

Getting a passport is a good thing! It means lot’s of fun in the future, but dealing with the technicalities of passport photos can be a little confusing. We’ve put together this guide to help answer all your passport photo related questions. If you are looking for a quick way to make sure your passport photo is okay check out the State Department’s examples of acceptable passport photos.

General Passport Photo Requirements and Information

How many passport photos do I need?
You only need to submit one passport photo with your application.

It’s a good idea to get extra passport photos taken to bring with you on your trip. If you lose your passport while traveling, you will need passport photos to apply for a replacement passport and having them on hand will simplify the process.

How old can my passport photo be?
You should take or have your photo taken within 6 months of your application submission. The reason for this is to ensure that your appearance in the photo reflects your current appearance.

Do I need a new passport photo if my appearance has changed?
You only need to get a new passport photo taken if the change is significant. If you can still be identified in the photo you should be fine.

Examples of significant changes would be undergoing extensive facial surgery, losing or gaining a lot of weight or transitioning in gender.

Where can I get my passport photo taken?
Many national drugstore changes like Walgreens and CVS take passport photos. You may also get your passport photo taken at the post office or at a Fed Ex Office.For more options check out this great guide.

Clothing and Accessory Related Requirements for Passport Photos

Can I wear sunglasses or eyeglasses in my passport photo?
If you wear eyeglasses on a daily basis you can wear those in the passport photo as long as they don’t obscure your eyes. You may only wear tinted glasses if you have a medical reason for wearing them and you will have to supply a medical certificate to verify this.

Are there any requirements to how I pose on a passport photo?

Yes, you must be facing the camera, your eyes must be open and your expression should not be unusual.

Can I wear a hat in my passport photo?

The only time you can wear a hat or head covering is if you already wear it daily for religious purposes. Your face must still be visible and you must be able to see your hairline.

Passport Photo Technical Requirements

What size does my passport photo have to be?
Passport photos must be 2 X 2 inches. You can use the State Department’s passport photo cropping application if you have a photo that is larger.

Can I take and print my passport photos myself?
You can, you just need to make sure you adhere to the State Department’s requirements for passport photos.

What type of paper does my passport photo need to be printed on?
Your passport photo should be printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper.

What type of background should my passport photo have?
Your passport photo should be taken in front of a plain white or off-white background.

Can my passport be black and white or does it have to be color?
Only color photos are accepted on passport applications.

How large should my head be in the passport photo?
Your head should be between 1 inch and 1 3/8th inches (think 50% to 69% of the images total height). The State Department’s passport photo cropping application can help you if you are having trouble visualizing these dimensions.

Passport Photos For Children

Does my child have to appear alone in their passport photo or can I hold them?
The child must appear alone and no signs of support (such as the hands of a parent holding a child) can be visible in their passport photo.

I can’t get a picture of my baby with their eyes open. Is it okay for my child’s eyes to be closed in their passport photo?
It is okay for a newborn or infant to have their eyes closed. All other children must have their eyes open and also must be looking directly at the camera.

An easy way to take a passport photo of your infant is to cover a car seat in a plain white sheet and take a picture of them in the car seat.

My child’s appearance has changed a lot due to getting older. Do I need to get a new passport photo for my child?
If the appearance changes are due to the normal aging process, you do not need to get a new passport photo for them.

photo: (cropped) Marc Gautier Photographer

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