US Passport Photo Guidelines: Everything You Need to Know for Perfect Pictures

aipassportphoto.com / 2024-06-13

It's no secret that the US Department of State issued a staggering 22 million passports in 2023, including 3.36 million passport cards. That's like giving a new passport to every single person in Australia in just one year! Can you imagine the number of photos and applications US agents had to sift through? If you're planning to apply for a passport in 2024 and want to make sure your photo meets all the necessary requirements, you've come to the right spot.

Introducing the essential checklist for perfect passport photos! 

Aipassportphoto has done all the hard work for you with this comprehensive guide. Make sure you review each section thoroughly to ensure your passport photo meets US requirements.

 Dress Code for Passport Photos

When it comes to selecting your outfit for passport photos, there are plenty of options available to you. However, it's important to note that uniforms and camouflage-style military attire are not allowed. Additionally, any clothing that resembles a uniform is also prohibited.

For the best results, opt for everyday attire such as a shirt, t-shirt, or v-neck that does not cover any part of your face. Avoid wearing items like hoodies with the hood up or rolled-up turtleneck sweaters, as these are not permitted. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your passport photo meets all requirements.

  Tips for Perfect Passport Photos

When taking your own passport photos, it's crucial to pay attention to the background. To meet strict requirements, stick to a plain white or off-white background without any shadows, textures, or objects. For best results, use a reliable background removal tool to ensure your photos meet all necessary guidelines. 

 Smiling Guidelines 

When taking a passport photo in the US, it's important to remember that smiling is allowed, unlike in many other countries. However, there are specific rules to follow: avoid showing a full toothy smile, but closed-mouth smiles are acceptable. It's even permissible to show some teeth as long as the mouth remains closed. Remember these guidelines when getting your passport photo taken! 

 Glasses Restrictions

When taking a US passport photo, it is important to note that glasses of any kind are not allowed and must be removed beforehand, even if they are corrective lenses.

However, there is an exception for US citizens who wear glasses for significant medical reasons, as long as they have a signed statement from a doctor supporting their need for eyewear in the passport photo.

  Make up

When it comes to passport photos, less is more when it comes to makeup. Avoid any products that will cause shine or reflect too much light in a flash photo. Opt for a natural look or skip the makeup altogether if you don't wear it often. Following these tips will ensure a perfect passport photo that meets all requirements.

 Accessorize with Earrings and Jewelry in Your Passport Photo

Did you know that the Department of State allows for earrings and jewelry in passport photos as long as they do not obscure the face? This means that you can proudly showcase your facial piercings, earrings, necklaces, and even permanent tattoos on your face, neck, chest, or shoulders in your passport photo. Make a statement with your accessories and show off your personal style in your official travel documents! 

  Passport Photo Hair Guidelines

Navigating the world of passport photo hair requirements can be tricky, but fear not - we've got you covered. While some may wonder if a Santa-style beard is allowed or if a toupee is acceptable, the answer is simple: if it obstructs the face or casts a shadow, it's a no-go.

Fear not, though - beards of all shapes and sizes are welcome, and bangs are permitted as long as they don't cover the eyes or eyebrows. While there's no rule about tucking hair behind the ears, it's best to keep your hair neat and tidy in a ponytail. Remember, in your passport photo, every part of your head and hair should be visible - no cutting corners allowed.ure.

 Importance of Proper Lighting in Passport Photos

When taking a US passport photo, it is crucial to ensure that there are no visible shadows present. Any shadows on the face, background, or other areas of the photo (except for the ears) are not allowed. To achieve this, it is recommended to use even lighting to eliminate any shadows and ensure a clear and professional-looking photo.

 Head coverings

Understanding the guidelines for head coverings in US passport photos is crucial. Only religious or medical head coverings are allowed, with a signed statement from the appropriate authority required. It's important to ensure that the head covering does not obstruct or cast a shadow on any part of the face. Non-religious scarves, such as those worn around the head or neck, are not permitted in passport photos.

Shoulder Positioning for Optimal Photography

When taking a photo, it is not necessary for both shoulders to be visible. The key is to have the subject facing the camera directly with their face, neck, and chest centered in the frame. Whether the shoulders are covered or uncovered is up to personal preference. This positioning will ensure a flattering and engaging photograph.


According to the latest US guidelines, it is recommended for individuals to maintain a neutral expression while posing for photographs. This entails keeping facial muscles relaxed, with eyes open and mouth closed. To achieve the desired effect, it is suggested to adopt a slightly bored demeanor. While a smile is acceptable, it is important to note the specific guidelines outlined in the relevant section.


Passport photo guidelines allow for flexibility with ear visibility. Whether covered by hair or tucked behind, ears do not need to be prominently displayed. Additionally, earrings are allowed as part of the subject's attire.

Photo Requirements for US Passport Applications

When submitting a photo for your US passport application, it's important to ensure it meets the specific technical specifications outlined by the authorities. Here are the key requirements to keep in mind:

  • The photo must be in color; black and white images will not be accepted.
  • Size should be 2"x 2"or 51mm by 51 mm.
  • Minimum pixel dimensions of 600 x 600 px.
  • The head should be centered and facing the camera, with a height between 1 and 1 3/8(25-35mm).
  • Only .JPEG format is accepted.
  • Digital photos must be a minimum of 54kB in size.
  • Ensure that the head, neck, and top of the chest are visible with adequate space above the head.
  • The photo must have been taken within the last 6 months to be considered valid. 

By adhering to these technical specifications, you can ensure that your passport photo meets the necessary requirements for a successful application process.

 Photo Standards

When applying for or renewing a US passport, it is crucial to adhere to strict guidelines when submitting photos. Any photos that are damaged, punctured, creased, or smudged will be rejected for not meeting the required quality standards. Ensure your photos meet the necessary criteria to avoid any issues with your application.

 Choosing the Right Paper for Your Passport Photos

Congratulations on capturing the ideal shot for your passport photos! Now, when it comes to selecting the perfect paper for printing, there are a few things to consider. The choice between matte and glossy photo paper is a common dilemma. Rest assured, both options are suitable as long as you use high-quality photo paper. Make sure to adhere to the paper requirements to ensure your passport photos meet the necessary standards.

Updating passport photo requirements for renewal

When renewing your US passport, whether through the traditional mail-in method or the new online renewal option, it is important to ensure that your passport photo meets all the necessary requirements. Here is a breakdown of what is needed for each renewal method.

Renew by mail: What you need to know

When renewing your US passport by mail, you will need to include one 2x2 inch physical passport photo that meets all the specified guidelines. This photo must be securely attached to Form DS-82 using four staples, avoiding the use of glue or other adhesive substances.

It is essential to ensure that the passport photo is free of any bends, folds, or creases after attachment to the form. This attention to detail will help ensure a smooth renewal process and prevent any delays in receiving your updated passport.

Passport Renewal Made Easy: Photo Guidelines for Online Renewal

Are you looking to renew your passport online? Make sure to follow the special guidelines set out for the new online renewal system. As part of the process, you will need to upload a compliant passport photo to your MyTravelGov account. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Your photo must be in .JPEG format.
  • Avoid submitting scans of physical photos.
  • Do not take a picture of a printed photo and submit the digital version.
  • The MyTravelGov tool will crop the photo to the appropriate size, perform a quality check, and either accept or reject the photo.

If your photo gets rejected, don't worry. Detailed explanations of error codes can be found on the travel.state.gov website.

Special Guidelines for Baby Passport Photos

Newborns, infants, and toddlers have their own set of guidelines for passport photos. Here are some differences to be aware of:

  • Newborns and infants can have their eyes partially open or closed and may open their mouths in their photos.
  • The infant's tongue can be visible but should not be sticking out. No pacifiers or other objects are allowed.
  • Hands and arms can be in the photo as long as they are not covering the face and are below the shoulders.
  • Only the child should be in the photo, facing the camera.

For toddlers who can understand and follow directions, they should follow the standard guidelines for adults. Make sure to have a neutral expression or a slight smile with both eyes open.

Ensure your passport photos meet all necessary requirements with Aipassportphoto.

Say goodbye to the hassle of trying to meet passport photo guidelines on your own. With Aipassportphoto, you can easily check off all the necessary requirements without leaving your home. Plus, our service is more affordable than traditional options like CVS and Walgreens, and we even offer a money-back guarantee.

Download our convenient app on your Android or iOS device to access a professional passport photo guidelines checker and photo studio at your fingertips. Take as many photos as you need and rest assured that our app will ensure they meet all Department of State requirements.

You can also upload existing photos to the app and have them quickly transformed into government-compliant passport photos. And with our 100% compliance guarantee, you can trust that your photos will meet all necessary standards or receive 100% your money back.

Looking for detailed information on US passport photo requirements?

Check out these commonly asked questions and answers to learn more about what is needed for your passport application.

What are the dimensions of passport photos?

Passport photos for the US are 2×2 inches in size.

What is the minimum pixel size for a passport photo?

US passport photos must have a resolution of at least 600 by 600 pixels.

How many passport photos are required for a US passport application?

Only one passport photo is needed for new applications or renewals, as long as it meets the guidelines set by the US Department of State.

Should passport photos be glossy or matte finish?

US passport photos should be printed on high-quality photo paper, whether glossy or matte.

What are the requirements for hair in passport photos?

Hair should not cover any part of the face in US passport photos. Long bangs that cover the eyes or eyebrows are not allowed. It is recommended to tie back long hair to avoid any issues.

What are the size requirements for US passport photos in millimeters?

US passport photos should measure 51 by 51 millimeters.

What are the printing requirements for US passport photos?

Passport photos must be printed on matte or glossy photo paper with a minimum weight of 200 GSM. The photo should be 2×2 inches in size, with the subject's head measuring between 1"  and 1 ⅜" .

Are the requirements for US passport photos the same as citizenship photos?

Yes, the requirements are the same, except that USCIS requires two 2"×2" photos, while US passports only require one.

What are the rules regarding teeth in passport photos?

A closed-mouth, neutral expression is preferred in US passport photos. A small amount of teeth can be shown as long as the mouth remains closed.

Can PNG files be used for US passport photos?

Only JPEG files are accepted for US online passport renewals, so PNG files must be converted to JPEG format.

What should I do if my US passport photo does not meet the requirements?

If your photo does not meet the requirements, visit the travel.state.gov website for explanations of common error codes. You can also consider using a service like Aipassportphoto for guaranteed acceptance.

What are the rules regarding eyebrows in passport photos?

Eyebrows must be visible and not covered in US passport photos. Facial piercings, like eyebrow rings, are allowed.

Can I tape my passport photo to the application?

No, photos must be stapled to the application form in four places.

Is it okay to wear a turtleneck in a passport photo?

Turtlenecks are not recommended as they can obscure the face and neck. A simple shirt or T-shirt is a better choice.

Is smiling allowed in a passport photo?

Yes, a gentle smile is permitted in a passport photo, but avoid showing teeth or opening your mouth.

In conclusion, there are many guidelines to follow when taking your passport photo. To ensure compliance with all regulations, consider using a service like Aipassportphotofor guaranteed approval.

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