September 12, 2018

Your Guide to Perfect Passport Photos

US Passport on wooden table

The plane tickets are bought, the hotel’s booked, and every little detail is falling into place for your next big vacation — everything, that is, except your passport. Luckily, with a little time and this guide, you’ll have it all squared away quickly. But, the first step to getting a passport, or renewing your soon-to-be-expired one, is your passport photo.


Where To Get Your Passport Photos

Many retailers across the United States offer passport photo services, including some PostNet centers — but not all are created equal. Before you submit your photo, make sure to double check that it meets the State Department’s requirements for acceptable images. This criteria is strict, so in order to make your passport application or renewal process go smoothly, you’ll want to refer to this guide before you get your photo taken and again before you send in your application.



Official Passport Photo Requirements

From size to accessories, passport photo requirements are specific. Take a look at this comprehensive list to make sure your photos are in compliance with official government specifications from the U.S. Department of State.


Correct Photo Size, Position, and Color

  • Your passport photos must be 2×2 inches in size.
  • The height of the head (top of hair to bottom of your chin) needs to measure 1 inch to 1⅜ inches (or 25 mm–35 mm) and also needs to be 50–69% of the images total height.
  • Your eye height needs to be between 1⅛ inches to 1⅜ inches (28 mm–35 mm) from the bottom of the photo and also should be 56%–69% of the image’s height.
  • For digital images, image pixel dimensions must be in a square aspect ratio (meaning the height must be equal to the width) and must be 600×600 pixels to no greater than 1200×1200 pixels.
  • Make sure the photo shows the full head from the top of the hair to the bottom of the chin, without being cut off on top.
  • Your head must be centered within the frame and directly facing forward for a full face view.
  • Make sure both eyes are open and visible and aim for a neutral facial expression or a small natural smile.
  • Photo must be in full color, not black and white.


Recency, Attire, and Accessories

  • Your photo must have been taken in the past 6 months.
  • Glasses, unfortunately, are not allowed in your passport photo.
  • No hats, beanies, headphones or bluetooth earbuds, or other head coverings are allowed in your photos. However, if your head covering is for religious or medical purposes and you choose to leave it on, you must provide a signed statement that verifies that.
  • Most types of clothing are acceptable, as long as it’s something you’d wear on a normal day. However, uniforms are not allowed.



Other Passport Photo Requirements

  • Photos must be printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper.
  • The background of your photo must be solid white or off white.
  • Photos cannot be copied or digitally scanned from driver’s licenses or other official documents.
  • Do not retouch or alter the photo in any way before submitting it.
  • Make sure there are no shadows covering your face.
  • Avoid selfies! Since your photo must be a certain distance away to meet the size requirements above, have someone else take the picture.


So there you have it! Clearly the requirements for passport photos are lengthy, but not unmanageable. Bon Voyage!
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