U.S. Passport Photo


One of the necessary components for receiving a passport is the passport photo. It’s crucial the photo submitted meets the U.S. State Department’s requirements. Not doing so can mean your passport application will be suspended or rejected.

General Passport Photo Guidelines are as follows:

  • Photo must be in color
  • Should be clearly different than any photo you used with any previous passport
  • Must have been taken within the last six months
  • Must be 51mm x 51mm in size, or 2 x 2 inches
  • Final photos must be printed on high-quality glossy or matte photo paper

Composing your Passport Photo

Photo composition specifics and requirements include:

  • A plain white background must be used (a white wall is fine)
  • Face forward, eyes open with neutral expression
  • Make sure there is even lighting with no glare or shadows
  • For final photo on paper, your head must be 1 inch to 1 3/8 inches in size from the top of head to bottom of chin

Clothing Specifications

Do not wear any of the following for your Passport Photo:

  • Hat
  • Head scarf
  • Sunglasses
  • Headband
  • Hair bow
  • Uniform

It should be noted that there are special allowances for religious headgear worn on a daily basis. However, a letter will have to be submitted explaining the religious function, and the headgear must not block your face.

Taking Your Own Passport Photo

While it is recommended to have your passport photo taken professionally, you may also do it yourself as long as the correct dimensions and guidelines are used. The following are some tips for successfully taking your own passport photos:

  • Use a high-quality digital camera (not a low-resolution smartphone)
  • Consider using the red-eye reduction feature to reduce the red eye effect
  • Do not do any digital editing of the photo
  • Make sure the photo is high resolution – at least 300 dpi
  • Adhere to the dimensions and guidelines discussed above
  • There is a free photo sizing tool on State Department’s website; consider using it to size your passport photo properly
  • Print your passport photo in full color on high quality photo paper (glossy or matte) using a full-color printer

Additional Passport Photo Tips

Be sure to wear a different shirt than in any previous passport photos and ensure that your hair does not obscure your face.

For a child or baby’s passport photo, keep toys, pacifiers, blankets out of the shot. Other persons are also not allowed – not even a parent or caregiver’s hand holding the child. As with adults, no hats, headbands or bows are allowed. The child should be facing the camera directly with eyes open.

Infants are best photographed by laying them on a white blanket or sheet and photographing them from above.