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What are the passport photo requirements?

Navigating the passport application process involves several critical steps, one of which is providing an appropriate passport photo. Given the stringent requirements set by the U.S. Department of State, understanding what constitutes an acceptable passport photo is essential. This guide aims to demystify the passport photo requirements, ensuring your application proceeds smoothly without unnecessary delays due to photo rejections.

Passport Photo Requirements

Key Passport Photo Requirements

1. Size and Format:

  • The photo must measure 2 inches by 2 inches.

  • The head must be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.

2. Quality and Paper:

  • Photos must be in color, printed in high resolution on matte or glossy photo-quality paper.

  • The image must be clear, with no visible pixels or printer dots.

3. Background:

  • The background must be plain white or off-white.

  • There should be no patterns, shadows, or other objects in the background.

4. Pose and Expression:

  • The subject must face the camera directly, with a neutral facial expression or a natural smile.

  • Both eyes must be open, and the face must be fully visible without hair covering the eyes.

5. Attire and Accessories:

  • Normal street clothing should be worn. Uniforms, costumes, and camouflage attire are not permitted unless religious attire worn daily.

  • Head coverings for religious purposes are allowed but must not obscure any part of the face.

  • Glasses are not allowed in photos taken after November 1, 2016. Exceptions are made for medical reasons with a doctor's note.

  • Hearing devices and similar articles are acceptable.

6. Lighting and Shadows:

  • The photo must be well-lit, with no shadows on the face or background.

  • Lighting should be even and balanced to avoid washed-out or overly dark images.

7. Recent Photograph:

  • The photo must be taken within the last six months to ensure it accurately reflects your current appearance.

Tips for a Successful Passport Photo

Avoiding Common Mistakes:

  • Ensure there’s no glare on glasses if worn for medical reasons.

  • Avoid headgear and non-religious head coverings.

  • Make sure the background is pure white without textures or patterns.

  • Do not digitally alter the photo to change your appearance.

Professional vs. DIY Photos: While taking a passport photo at home is possible with digital cameras or smartphones, professional services are recommended to ensure all criteria are met. Many pharmacies, postal services, and specialized photography studios offer passport photo services that comply with government requirements.


A passport photo is more than just a picture; it's a critical component of your passport application. By adhering to the detailed requirements outlined by the U.S. Department of State and utilizing the support services offered by State Document, you can ensure that your passport photo is correct the first time, paving the way for a smooth application process. Remember, a little attention to detail can save a lot of time and hassle down the line.


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