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US Passport Photo

REQUIREMENTS AND FAQ

The U.S. Department of State has strict rules regarding acceptable passport photos. Failure to follow these rules will delay your passport application until you resend a good photo.

The following guide will answer all your questions about how to submit a perfect photo for you US Passport application.
Watch this short video from the State Department to see some great live examples of the good and not so good pictures for our new US passport.

Get the right picture with your passport application and have your passport issued on time without delays!

For more detailed tips on photos, see our examples of Do's and Dont's below.
PICTURE PERFECT PASSPORT
Tips for taking the perfect passport picture from Consular Affairs at the Department of State

US Passport Photo

BASICS

1
Printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper, 2 x 2 inches in size and between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
2
Photo must be in color and taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
3
Eye glasses must not be worn
4
Full face, front view with a plain white or off-white background
5
Background must be plain white or off-white
6
Taken with a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open
7
No hats or head coverings, unless you wear it daily for religious purposes, your full face must be visible
8
No headphones or wireless hands free devices
9
No scans of photos already printed. Use a clear image of your face. Do not use filters commonly used on social media
10
Articles worn for religious or medical reasons should be accompanied by a statement to that effect
11
No selfies — have someone else take your photo

Passport Photo

DO's and DONT's

Below you will find some GOOD and BAD examples of US Passport photos.

Table of content:

US Passport Photo

SHADOWS AND LIGHTING

Photo must be clear and in color, with no shadows and properly exposed.
ACCEPTABLE
Photo is clear and in color, reproduces skin tones accurately, and is properly exposed with no shadows
UNACCEPTABLE
Photo is underexposed
UNACCEPTABLE
Color is not accurate
ACCEPTABLE
Photo is clear and in color, reproduces skin tones accurately, and is properly exposed with no shadows
UNACCEPTABLE
There are shadows on the face and background
UNACCEPTABLE
No shadows are allowed, as well as high grains on photo

US Passport Photo

GLASSES

Eye glasses must not be worn, even if you need them in your every-day life
UNACCEPTABLE
Glasses are not allowed. Even when you wear glasses daily, you must remove your glasses for your photo
UNACCEPTABLE
Sunglasses are not allowed. You must remove your glasses for a photo
ACCEPTABLE
No glasses in photo

US Passport Photo
SIZE AND POSITION

If you are applying in person or by mail, your photo should be 2”x 2” (51 x 51 mm) with the head centered and sized between 1” and 1.4” (25 and 35 mm).
ACCEPTABLE
The head is centered and the correct size
UNACCEPTABLE
Head size is too small in photo
UNACCEPTABLE
Head is not centered properly

US Passport Photo

RESOLUTION, PRINT SIZE AND QUALITY


Passport photos need to be sharp, not grainy and of the correct size
ACCEPTABLE
Photo is sharp without visible pixels or printer dots
UNACCEPTABLE
Photo is blurred
UNACCEPTABLE
Photo appears grainy

US Passport Photo

DIGITAL ALTERATIONS AND RETOUCHING

No digital alteration or retouching of passport photos is permitted
ACCEPTABLE
Image has not been digitally altered
UNACCEPTABLE
Background is cropped out using a photo retouching tool, altering the outline of the head, face, and neck
UNACCEPTABLE
Image has "red eye"

US Passport Photo

POSE AND EXPRESSION

You must be looking straight into the camera with a neutral expression
ACCEPTABLE
Applicant is directly facing camera with a neutral expression. Eyes are clearly visible
UNACCEPTABLE
Applicant is looking down, head is tilted forward
UNACCEPTABLE
Facial expression is not neutral
UNACCEPTABLE
Head is rotated, shoulders aren't square to a camera
UNACCEPTABLE
Head is tilted to the side
UNACCEPTABLE
Applicant's eyes are closed

US Passport Photo

ATTIRE, HATS AND HAIR

No hats or head coverings except for religious dress worn every day, no clothing or hair or objects covering any part of your face
ACCEPTABLE
Subject’s full face is visible, no shadows or clothing obscure the face
UNACCEPTABLE
Head clothing covers part of the face, there are shadows on the face
UNACCEPTABLE
An object obscures a portion of the face
UNACCEPTABLE
Subject’s scarf covers a portion of her face
UNACCEPTABLE
Hats are not allowed
UNACCEPTABLE
Hair obscures a portion of the face

US Passport Photo


BACKGROUND

The background should be uniform, plain and white or off-white, and free of shadows. No other person should be in the photo.
ACCEPTABLE
Subject’s full face is visible, no shadows or clothing obscure the face
UNACCEPTABLE
Background is not plain
UNACCEPTABLE
Background is not white/off white
UNACCEPTABLE
Background is not white or off-white
ACCEPTABLE
Background is uniform, plain and white or off-white, and free of shadows
UNACCEPTABLE
Background is not plain, another person is in the photo, and the face is partially obscured

US Passport Photo

CHILDREN

Ensure the child's head is facing forward with a neutral facial expression. The child's full face must be visible. Remove objects obscuring portions of the face. No other person should be in the photo. It is acceptable if the infant's eyes (particularly a newborn's) are not, or are not entirely, open.
ACCEPTABLE
No other person is in the photo, the child is facing the camera with his eyes open
UNACCEPTABLE
Photo is underexposed, hair is casting shadows on face
UNACCEPTABLE
Child is not facing the front with neutral expression
UNACCEPTABLE
Object obscures portion of the face
ACCEPTABLE
Background is not plain, another person is in the photo, and the face is partially obscured
ACCEPTABLE
Photo is clear, with the child facing forward and looking at the camera

US Passport Photo Q&A

See the answers to some of the most common passport photo questions. If you have a question that needs a response, just email us.
Q:
What type of paper are the photographs to be printed on?
A:
The photos should be printed on thin photo-quality paper.
Q:
Can hats or religious headgear be worn for the passport photo?
A:
Unless worn daily for religious reasons, all hats or headgear should be removed for the photo. In all cases, no item or attire should cover or otherwise obscure any part of the face.
Q:
Can work uniforms be worn for the passport photo?
A:
Uniforms should not be worn in photographs except in the case of religious attire that is worn daily. Otherwise, normal street attire should be worn.
Q:
Can hats or religious headgear be worn for the passport photo?
A:
Unless worn daily for religious reasons, all hats or headgear should be removed for the photo. In all cases, no item or attire should cover or otherwise obscure any part of the face.
Q:
Can sunglasses or tinted glasses be worn for the passport photo?
A:
Dark glasses or nonprescription glasses with tinted lenses are not acceptable unless you need them for medical reasons. A medical certificate may be required.
Q:
Can a parent or guardian appear in the passport photo of a minor child?
A:
No, the minor child must be the only subject in the photo. Nothing used to support the minor child, whether by mechanical or human means, should be in the camera's frame.
Q:
Are photos that are copied from recent driver licenses or other official documents acceptable?
A:
No, only original photographs are acceptable. Copied or digitally scanned photos of photos will not be accepted. In addition, photos must not be retouched to alter the applicant's appearance in any way.
Q:
May photos be taken with a digital camera or cell phone?
A:
Yes, a digital camera or cell phone can be used to take your passport photo. You can also print the image at home. However, the image-quality criteria described on this website must be met.
Q:
Can I smile in my photo?
A:
Yes, but it must be a natural, unexaggerated smile. Both your eyes must be open.
Q:
What's the best way to take a photo of a baby or toddler? 
A:

When taking a photo of your baby or toddler, no other person should be in the photo.

Lay your baby on his or her back on a plain white or off-white sheet. Make certain there are no shadows on your baby's face, especially if you take a picture from above. Covering a car seat with a plain white or off-white sheet and taking a picture of your child in the car seat may also be helpful.

Contact us

San Francisco Expedite Passport Office

507 Polk St, CA 94102

(415) 810-5954


Atlanta Expedite Passport Office
309 Peters Street, SW, Unit A
Atlanta, GA 30313
(404) 827-0099