U.S. Passport Photo FAQ

The passport photo FAQ below provide answers to the questions that are most often asked by applicants. Since the submission of unacceptable passport photos is one of the principal reasons applications are delayed, it is important to fully understand the requirements and strictly adhere to them.

Q: How many passport photos must be submitted with a passport application?

A: Only one photo is required for each passport application sent by mail or delivered in person.

Q: What type of paper must be used to print the photos?

A: Photo quality paper must be used. The photo quality paper can be either matte or glossy photo paper.

Q: Do photos have to be in color?

A: Yes, the photos must be in color. Black and white photos will not be accepted.

Q: How recent must my photos be?

A: Your photos must have been taken within 6 months of submitting your application and reflect your current appearance.

Q: What size of photo is required?

A: The photo must be exactly 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm).

Q: What pose should I be in for my photo?

A: Your photo must be a clear shot of your entire face horizontally centered in the photo. Profile shots or photos not in focus will not be accepted. Your photo must be taken against a plain white or off-white background. Your expression should be neutral with both eyes open and directly facing the camera. Photos with unusual expressions and squinting will not be accepted.

Q: How size must the head be in the photo?

A: Your head should be between 1 inch and 1-3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of your chin to the top of your hair. If you are submitting a digital image, then your head should be between 50% and 69% of the image's total height from the top of the head, including the hair, to the bottom of the chin.

Q: Can eyeglasses be worn for the photo?

A: Eyeglasses worn on a daily basis can be worn for the photo. However, there should be no reflections from the eyeglasses that obscure the eyes. Glare can be avoided with a slight downward tilt of the glasses or by removing the glasses or by turning off the camera flash.

Q: Can sunglasses or tinted glasses be worn for the photo?

A: No, you cannot wear sunglasses or tinted glasses for your photo. If you are applying for a U.S. passport, and you need to wear your prescription glasses that have dark on tinted lenses for medical reasons then they may be worn in your photo. A medical certificate may be required to verify prescription eyewear. If you are applying for a U.S. visa, you may not wear any glasses with dark or tinted lenses for your photo.

Q: Can a hat be worn for the photo?

A: No. Hat and head coverings should be removed for the photo unless it is worn daily for a religious purpose. The full face must be visible in your photo. The head covering should not obscure the hairline and must not cast shadows on the face.

Q: Can a uniform be worn for my photo?

A: Uniforms, clothing that looks like a uniform, and camouflage attire should not be worn in photos except in the case of religious attire that is worn daily. Otherwise, normal clothing that you wear on a daily basis should be worn.

Q: Can a parent or guardian appear in the photo of a child?

A: No, the child must be the only person in the photo. Nothing used to support the child should be in the camera's frame, including the arms or hands of a parent holding the child.

Q: Is it acceptable for my child's eyes to be closed in his/her photo?

A: No. Please have your child’s eyes open and looking straight ahead towards the camera.

Q: What’s the best way to take a photo of a baby?

A: Lay your baby on his or her back on a plain white or off-white sheet. This will ensure your baby's head is supported and provide a plain background for the photo. Make certain there are no shadows on your baby’s face, especially if you take a picture from above with the baby lying down. You can also cover a car seat with a plain white or off-white sheet and take a picture of your child in the car seat. This will also ensure your baby’s head is supported.

Q: May photos be taken with a digital camera?

A: Yes, you can use a digital camera. Most webcams and mobile phones cannot provide images of sufficient quality.

Q: Can I remove the red-eye from my photo?

A: You can use the red-eye reduction option on your digital camera when taking the photo. However, photo editing tools cannot be used to digitally remove the red-eye. In general, digitally enhancing or altering the photo to change your appearance in any way will render the photos unacceptable.

Q: Are photos that are copied from recent driver licenses or other official documents acceptable?

A: Copied or digitally scanned photos of official documents will not be accepted.

Q: Are snapshots, magazine photos, mobile photos or photos from vending machine acceptable?

A: No. Snapshots, magazine photos, low-resolution vending machine or mobile phone photos, or full-length photographs are not acceptable.

Q: Do I need to take a new photo if I recently dyed my hair a new color or grew a beard?

A: New photos are only required if your appearance has significantly changed from what is in your photo. Growing a beard or coloring your hair would not constitute a significant change. If you can still be identified from the photo in your current passport or visa application, you do not need to apply for a new passport or submit a new photo for your visa application. However, you may have to apply for a new passport or submit a new photo for your visa application if you have:

  • Undergone significant facial surgery or trauma
  • Added or removed numerous/large facial piercings or tattoos
  • Undergone a significant amount of weight loss or gain
  • Obtained a new gender identity

The acceptance of your photo is at the discretion of the U.S. passport agency where you apply for a passport or U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply for a visa.

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