US Passport Requirements

Passport Photo Requirements

In August 22, 2017

It’s no secret that obtaining a proper passport photo can be incredibly difficult. Non-compliant passport photos are the number one reason for passport applications to be rejected every year. Last year over 250,000 passport applications were rejected because of unacceptable passport photos. The U.S. Department of State frequently adds and amends their requirements for acceptable passport photos. In November 2016, a new rule came out that required applicants to no longer wear glasses in their photographs. It’s critical to make sure you understand the passport photo requirements to avoid passport processing delays.

Requirements for a Passport Photo

As of May 2017, the requirements for a passport photo are as follows:

  • Your head must face the camera directly with full face in view.
  • You must have a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open.
  • Taken in clothing normally worn on a daily basis, so no uniforms.
  • Recently taken in the last 6 months
  • Plain white or off-white background
  • Be sized correctly: 2 x 2 inches
  • Head must be between 1 -1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
  • Printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper
  • Printed in color
  • Glasses are not allowed. If you cannot remove your glasses for medical reasons, please include a signed note from your doctor with application.
  • You cannot wear a hat or head covering. If you wear a hat or head covering for religious purposes, submit a signed statement that verifies that the hat or head covering in your photo is part of recognized, traditional religious attire that is customarily or required to be worn continuously in public. If you wear a hat or head covering for medical purposes, submit a signed doctor’s statement verifying the hat or head covering in your photo is used daily for medical purposes.
  • Your full face must be visible and your hat or head covering cannot obscure your hairline or cast shadows on your face.
  • You cannot wear headphones or wireless hands-free devices.

How to Get a Passport Photo

There are several trusted ways to take your passport photo to ensure it is of the high quality that is expected by the US Department of State. Many applicants use a trusted passport photo service at Walgreens or CVS photo locations. Some post offices and county clerks also offer passport photo services. There are even emerging technologies such as a mobile app that can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet so you can take your own passport photo at home.

In the event that you have undergone significant facial changes such as from trauma, surgery, major weight loss/gain, or a gender transition, your passport photo should be updated. Obviously a minor’s passport will change as the natural aging process takes place, so it is often expected that the minor’s passport photo may not reflect their most current presentation. However, if you feel your passport photo is not reflective of your current presentation, then you should get a new passport with an updated photo.

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