All You Need To Know About Passport Photos

Order Passport | Passport Timing How Quicly Can I Expect To Receive It

Preparing to go on an international trip, whether for work or pleasure, requires significant effort. In most cases, the experience is well worth it! One of the most stressful aspects of the preparation process can be obtaining your passport, including the dreaded passport photo. Never fear, your passport photo doesn’t need to be unflattering, but does need to follow specific requirements. In fact, getting a passport photo is easier than ever – you may even be able to do it yourself.

The entire process of requesting a passport, from filling out the paperwork, visiting your local passport office (if necessary), waiting for the paperwork to be processed and receiving your passport, as well as getting your passport photo, is detailed on the Department of the State website. We’ve summarized the passport photo requirements here, but be sure to check out the Department of the State website for full details.

The Requirements

According to The Department of the State, your passport photo must be:

  • Taken in full color
  • Printed on photo quality paper which can be either matte or glossy
  • Must be sized at 2” x 2”
  • Your head must be sized between 1” and 1 3/8”
  • Have been taken within the past 6 months to assure that it reflects your appearance as it is now
  • Have a white or off white background
  • You must be facing the camera fully
  • The photo must be taken from at least 4 feet away and at eye level
  • You must have a neutral expression and both eyes open
  • You must not be wearing a hat, sunglasses or distracting clothing
  • If you wear glasses on a daily basis, you can wear them—but there must not be a glare
  • Photos of children are slightly more flexible, but the child must still be able to be fully identified.

Where to Have Your Photo Taken

There are a number of options available to you for having your photos taken. Usually the easiest and safest is to go to a professional passport photographer. Many stores or pharmacies that offer photo developing services will also offer passport photography services. Another option is to have someone take your photo digitally, which you can then upload to the Department of State yourself using this photo tool.

Once you have your passport photo you’re ready to finish the process of applying. After all the effort needed to obtain your first passport, you will find that updating your passport in the future is much easier. Once you finally get that passport in your hands, you’re ready to travel—now all you have to do is pack!



  1. I am unable to order the certificated I need due to a problem with the web site. I can not find any help or contact information to report this issue. I have been trying for 3 weeks.

    1. We apologize if our website has been giving you trouble when trying to place your order. You can contact our Customer Support Team at 800-255-2414 with any questions you may have. Thank you.

  2. bunch of liars take your money then give you a bunch of lies about the other suppliers back log. I called about a my order. they sent me to pa website .went and called pa records instead.the first thing I was told was no backlog. HOPE YOU DID NOT USE VITAL sorry a##### ed outfit.

    1. lost a good paying job because could not get x endorsement with out the paper work ..they claim 7 to 17 business days /then come up with pa has a major backlog bull####…will be 35to 45 days longer ..told them I will file a lawsuit Monday am. pa verified no such backlog.then said again hope you did not use VITALE

      1. Thank you for your comment. We do apologize for any confusion regarding the timeframe for receiving your certificate. There are times in which the agency issuing the certificate may have a longer processing timeframe than we know at the time, due to circumstances beyond our control. If you wish, please feel free to send us an email at, and we’ll be glad to look into the situation for you.

    2. Thank you for your comment. We do apologize for any confusion regarding the timeframe for receiving your certificate. If you wish, please feel free to send us an email at, and we’ll be glad to look into the situation for you.

  3. You have shared wonderful tips about the passport photos a person should be aware of. Following the above guidelines and tips one can have a fabulous American passport photo. However looking for the best photographer and a studio for a passport photo can cause a lot of wastage of time and money. In case of emergencies, people can go online and can create their passport photos just by clicking their own pictures from their webcam. These photos are deliverable to them on the same day.

    1. Hello Alex T – We are happy to hear this information was helpful to you. Thank you for your feedback!
      Nichole H.

  4. With all the rules and regulations surround proper procedure for passport photos, I would probably go with a professional who specializes in that sort of thing. I would get a passport to go out of the country on vacation, so chances are i’m already preoccupied with other things. A professional would make things go smoother and easier. That way I can focus on vacation plans and not have to worry about the resolution of my photo or whether or not I printed it on the right type of paper.

    1. Hello John. Thanks for your comments. Here is a link to the most current requirements for passport photos. Please note that beginning November 1, 2016, applicants for U.S. passports and visas must remove their glasses for their application photos. This change will help eliminate glares and shadows that can lead to delays in processing visa and passport applications. If you cannot remove your glasses for medical reasons, please include a signed note from your doctor with your application. If you chose to forego using a professional service for your photo, please note that the guidelines from the link above must be followed exactly in order to avoid a delay in processing your application.

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