The United States Department of State receives a few hundred thousand unacceptable passport photos every year. Know that the photos must look a certain way in order to get accepted. If they don’t, then your passport application will be denied and you’ll have to retake the photos. To avoid this happening at the wrong time and potentially ruining a vacation you had planned, it’s important to know exactly how passport photos should look like.

The Size of Passport Photos

Passport photos need to be of certain size in order to get accepted. Namely, they have to be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm), while the size of your head must be between 1 – 1 3/8 inches (25 – 35 mm) from top to bottom. Your head must be facing the camera with a neutral facial expression or natural smile. In case your head is tilted or to the side, your photo won’t get accepted. Keep in mind that it has to be a clear head shot, which means you shouldn’t wear anything that obscures your face, such as hats and scarves.

What to Do When Your Appearance Changes

In case your appearance has notably changed since the time you took your current passport photo, you will need to replace it with a new one. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should change it if you’ve lost several pounds or if you have a new hairstyle. Significant appearance changes that require you to get new passport photos include gender transitions, adding or removing facial tattoos, undergoing notable facial surgery, and losing/gaining a lot of weight.

Baby Passport Photos

Just like adults, babies need to face the camera directly and have a neutral facial expression in order for the photos to be accepted. This can often be challenging, since it’s not easy maintaining an infant’s pose and facial expression. However, know that it’s acceptable if your child’s eyes are not completely open. Nevertheless, you’ll need to make sure no objects are obscuring any portions of your baby’s face or are visible in the background.

Where to Get Passport Photos

There are numerous places that offer passport photo printing. One option is to go to a nearby drugstore of pharmacy like CVS, Walgreens, or Rite-Aid. Although the prices may vary across store locations, you’ll probably pay between $9 and $12 for a pair of passport photos at a pharmacy. It’s worth mentioning that even though you’re usually able to take photos immediately at a drugstore and have them printed within just a few hours, this is not the cheapest option.

You can get them at a cheaper price at warehouse and discount retail stores such as WalMart, Sam’s Club, Sears, Target, and Costco. Your other options include taking passport photos at AAA offices, your local post office, as well as printing and shipping stores.

Taking Your Own Passport Photos

There is no reason for you to go to a pharmacy or a discount retail store to have your passport photo taken when you can do this yourself. All you need to do is set up a white or cream-colored background (you can pose in front of a wall), get yourself in front of it, and snap a photo. It’s recommended to have a friend around who’ll adjust the lighting and make sure there are no shadows on your face.

Dressing Properly

It’s best to take your passport photo in clothing you’d normally wear on a daily basis. Note that camouflage attire is not acceptable. Similarly, you can’t wear a uniform or anything that looks like one. You’re permitted to wear glasses in the photo only if you have a signed note from your doctor stating you can’t remove them for medical reasons. Glasses are not otherwise permitted.

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