All You Need To Know About Passport Photos

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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!

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