Essential Requirements for Passport Pictures

As seasoned professional photographers, we understand the importance of a well-taken passport photo. It’s not just a picture; it’s your global identity. Hence, it’s crucial to get it right. In this article, we will guide you through the process, requirements, and provide expert advice to ensure your passport photo meets all the necessary standards.

Understanding Passport Photo Requirements

Size and Format

The standard size for a passport photo in the United States is 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm). The photo should be in color and printed on high-quality photo paper. The head must be between 1 -1 3/8 inches (25 – 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.

Background and Lighting

The photo must be taken against a plain white or off-white background. It should have a clear focus, with no shadows on the face or background. The lighting should be even and natural, without any overexposure or underexposure.

Expert Advice for a Perfect Passport Photo

Facial Expression and Appearance

Keep a neutral facial expression with both eyes open and clearly visible. You should face the camera directly with your full face in view. Your normal everyday appearance should be maintained. If you usually wear prescription glasses, a hearing device, wig, or similar articles, they should be worn for your photo.

Clothing and Accessories

Wear clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis. Uniforms, clothing that looks like a uniform, and camouflage attire should not be worn. Hats or head coverings are only allowed if worn daily for religious purposes, and they should not obscure any part of the face.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I take a passport photo with my phone?

Yes, you can. However, ensure that the photo meets all the requirements mentioned above. It’s advisable to use a professional photo service to guarantee compliance with all the rules.

Can I smile in my passport photo?

No, a neutral facial expression is required for passport photos. Smiling could distort your facial features, making it difficult for facial recognition software to identify you.

How often should I update my passport photo?

As a general rule, you should update your passport photo every ten years. However, if your appearance changes significantly (for example, due to aging, facial surgery, or significant weight loss or gain), it’s advisable to update your photo sooner.


Getting your passport photo right is crucial for smooth travel experiences. By following the requirements and advice outlined in this article, you can ensure your passport photo is up to standard. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always best to consult with professional photographers.

As experienced Chicago Il Photographers, we specialize in taking Chicago Passport Photos. If you’re in the area and need a Passport Photo Chicago, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to make the process as seamless as possible for you.