8 New Passport Photo Do’s and Don’ts

When planning an upcoming trip, chances are you have researched the hotel, necessary flights, and travel activities. Have you checked to see if your passport is up to date? If it is time to renew your passport, that could mean a new passport photo, too.  

Most adult’s passport photos are valid for ten years, however, there are some exceptions to this rule. To ensure your passport is ready to go for your next international getaway, find out when you need a new passport photo, as well as eight passport photo do’s and don’ts. Let’s dive in!   

When Do You Need a New Passport Photo? 

There are several reasons to get a new passport photo taken. First, anyone under the age of 16 is required to apply for a child passport. For someone older than 16, here are four factors that may require a new passport photo being taken:  

  1. A significant change in your appearance due to extensive plastic surgery, severe facial trauma or facial deformities.  
  2. A large amount of weight loss. If serious weight loss has affected the appearance of someone’s face or facial structure, they may need to take a new passport photo.  
  3. A gender transition. If an individual has changed their gender from male to female or vice versa which has led to a significant change in their appearance, a new photo is mandatory.    
  4. The addition or removal of extensive facial tattoos. Additional tattoos on a person’s face or the removal of significant facial tattoos often requires a new passport photo.  

If you are unsure if the changes to your appearance constitute a new passport photo, contact the Department of State for further clarification. Next, let’s explore eight common passport photo do’s and don’ts to prepare for your next passport photo session.  

#1. Use Clear Photos Only 

One of the biggest reasons a new passport photo is not accepted is because the photo is not clear. Be sure the photo is in focus, not grainy and is in color. Additionally, check that you are not too far away in the photo and that all of your facial features are seen clearly. Specifically, the bottom of your chin to the top of the head should be between 1 -1 3/8 inches.  

#2. Check Your Photo’s Light Quality  

Another common mistake when it comes to new passport photos is ensuring the picture features adequate lighting. Passport photos cannot include shadows, particularly over a person’s face or head. Furthermore, the picture should not be overexposed, discolored or too bright. Red eyes should also be avoided.   

#3. Keep Your Eyes Open 

Although it may seem obvious, your eyes need to be fully open in your passport photo. For the best results, focus on the person’s nose who is taking your passport photo. This will ensure your eyes are not tilted too far up or down. Unfortunately, if you blink and your eyes close during your photo, you will need to retake it. Additionally, both of your eyes need to be included in your photo, meaning side profile photos are not accepted.  

#4. Your Face Must be Uncovered

Passport photos require that your face is not covered by hats, hair or eyeglasses. As of 2016, eyeglasses can no longer be worn in U.S. passport photos. According to the U.S. State Department, if you are unable to remove your glasses temporarily due to medical reasons, you will need to include a signed note from your doctor with your passport application. Additionally, jewelry that hides your face as well as headphones and other electronic devices are prohibited in passport photos.  

#5. Know the Correct Photo Dimensions 

When submitting a new passport photo, be sure it is the correct dimensions. Photos should be 2 x 2 inches. The picture should be printed on a matte or slightly glossy paper. Ensure that your photo does not have any holes, significant creases or smudges on it, as well. These factors may result in your passport photo being denied.   

#6. Strike the Appropriate Pose 

Unfortunately, selfies are not allowed when it comes to passport photos. It is required that someone else take your photo for you, or you use a tripod and a photo timer. In terms of your facial expression, your face should appear neutral or with a slight smile. As a rule, you should not smile with your teeth in your passport photo. Additionally, you want to ensure your head is centered in the picture frame and not tilted. 

#7. Pick the Right Attire   

Although it is tempting to dress up for your new passport photo, your picture should be taken in your everyday, normal clothing. Uniforms, as well as clothing that resembles a uniform, are not acceptable. Additionally, clothing featuring a camouflage pattern are also prohibited. To ensure you are following the passport photo rules, stick to basic clothing items such as jeans and a t-shirt.  

#8. Learn the Rules for a Child’s Passport 

The passport photo requirements for children and babies differ slightly than the requirements for adults. In an infant’s photo, it’s acceptable if their eyes are not fully open or looking straight forward. However, toddlers and older children are expected to be in the center of the photo, with their eyes facing forward and open.   

In order to take a passport photo for an infant, the U.S. State Department suggests laying the baby on his or her back on a plain white or off-white sheet. If possible, ensure there are no shadows across the baby’s head or face when taking the photo. For additional help, visit the U.S. State Department’s website to see example photos for a child’s passport.   


Get Travel Ready with a New Passport Photo Today     

Let The Passport Office help you prepare for your next international trip. If you are in need of expedited passport services, passport renewal, a child’s passport or other passport help, look no further. Our team has over 20 years’ experience in the passport industry and offers fast and secure delivery. 

To get started, explore our eight office locations across the U.S., or get started online. We look forward to assisting you with your passport needs.