The Dos & Don’ts of Passport Photos

Posted on May 5, 2016 by Lindsay

Hey future international travelers! If you’re looking to procure a passport with the proper government approved head shot, then here’s a few cute Do’s and Don’ts that you will need to consider when getting your Passport Photos.


The EASIEST way to ensure your passport photos will be accepted is to get them taken professionally. A lot of local businesses can do this for you but you can also opt to get them taken right at the post office. Jason and I went separately, when it was convenient for each of us and payed the small fee to have all of the paperwork processed at the same time. Just remember that if you go this route, you have to call your post office and confirm an appointment time before storming down there.

Dos & Don’ts of Passport Photos


This seems like a total no-brainer but apparently it’s a thing. The U.S. Government’s Passports and International Travel site state’s specifically that “Hand-held self portraits are not acceptable” so you’re going to have to accept that you might not get your best ‘angle’ in your passport pic.

Dos & Don’ts of Passport Photos


Getting a passport photo is a pretty simple endeavor but there are still a lot of ways you can mess them up. The U.S. Government site has a long list of rules and regulations you must follow when selecting a photo for your passport. So if you insist on saving the extra bucks on getting your photo taken professionally, it’s important to read through all of the passport photo requirements (yeah, all of them, stop being lazy) and make sure that your photo is in compliance. If you mess up your photos, it will not only delay the arrival of your passport but also cost you a good bit of money.

Dos & Don’ts of Passport Photos


Don’t just skim the passport photo bullet points before sending them in. Remember how 5 seconds ago I said you should read through all the requirements? Yeah if you didn’t do that then you might not know that your photos need to have a specific background color and resolutions. Don’t screw up. Also check out the passport photography guide and photo composition template.

Dos & Don’ts of Passport Photos


And I don’t mean get ready to talk about your current crocheting project. Just make sure that when you have your photo taken to be mindfulto dress and style yourself how you would on an average day. Wear something basic and give the photog a nice smile. When I had my photo taken, I had read that you shouldn’t drastically alter your facial expression by squinting or smiling too big. So I thought “Alright, I’ll just give a coy smile, that should be perfect.” What came out is the photo you see above which kinda looks like I just murdered someone. I think I could have put forth more effort in the smile department.

Dos & Don’ts of Passport Photos


This is truly an essential life tip but if you are used to wearing a lot of accessories, think about it before getting your photo taken. Regulations state that you can’t wear a hat, sunglasses, fake piercings or a uniform in your photos. So, be sure to ditch those first. You could probably get away with a trench coat though.

Read all of the Passport & International Travel Photo Requirements here.

For more info, check out the Frequently Asked Questions here where you will find out the answer to the FAQ:

“Are snapshots, magazine photos, mobile device photos, or photos from vending machines acceptable?”

Spoiler alert no…no they are not.


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