How To Take Your Own Passport Photo at Home- Size, Examples, & Other Requirements in 2024
There are several steps to applying for or renewing your passport. One task is getting a passport photo, which only takes a few minutes. However, it can require an extra trip to the store and cost as much as $16.99 per pair.
To save time and money, you might wonder if you can take your passport photos home. Yes is the short answer, and it’s even possible to upload a digital photo (renewals only).
Here is what you need to know about DIY passport photos to avoid application delays and enjoy the satisfaction of completing this task at home.
Table of Contents
Passport Photo Requirements
You can make free passport photos but they must meet the basic requirements from the U.S. State Department (or your issuing country). The State Department has extensive examples of good snapshots here.
Below is a summary of the passport photo basics:
- Must be six months or newer
- Measures 2 x 2 inches
- Has a clear image of your face and shoulders (without special camera filters)
- Is a neutral image with a white background
- There are no objects, shadows, or other people in the picture
- Another person or a tripod must be used (no selfies)
The image must clearly show your face with full lighting and in a natural setting. Adults and children can have passport photos taken from home.
US Passport Photo Tips
Taking it a step further, here are several specifications regarding posture, lighting, and attire.
|Shadows and Lighting
|There cannot be any shadows and the lighting must reflect your natural skin tone.
Tip: Find a well-lit area but avoid direct sunlight which is more likely to cause shadows or glare.
|Solid white or off-white backgrounds only (i.e., smooth white walls or poster board)
Backgrounds with lines, tape joints, textures, or words will be rejected. This includes painted block walls or windows.
Additionally, edited images with cropped-out backgrounds are prohibited as they interfere with the outline of the head, neck, and shoulders.
|Resolution and Photo Size
|Photos must be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm). The picture must also be clear without being blurry or containing printer dots.
Other helpful tips include:
– Head should measure between 1 and 1.4 inches (25 and 35 mm).
– Digital images must be a .JPEG format, at least 600 x 600 pixels, and a minimum 54kb (kilobytes) file size.
– Do not crop out a background or alter image dimensions to make it thinner or thicker
|Size and Position
|Head must be centered and looking straight ahead. Looking up, down, or sideways is unacceptable.
The photo must also include your shoulders.
|Eyes must be clearly visible, directly facing the camera, and cannot be shut.
Do not use photo editing software to remove red eyes. Instead, retake the photo for successful results.
|No eyeglasses of any kind are permitted.
Exception: If glasses cannot be removed for medical reasons, you must provide a doctor’s note.
|Attire, Hats, and Hair
|Hats and headwear for medical or religious purposes are permissible when the full face is visible.
Clothing or hair cannot obscure the face or cast shadows.
|Cannot wear uniforms, clothing that looks like uniforms, or camouflage attire.
|Smiles and Teeth
|Must maintain a neutral expression. Natural smiles can be permitted but your lips must remain closed. Teeth cannot be shown.
|Children must face the camera with their eyes open (infants, especially newborns, can have closed eyes).
Other restrictions include:
– Hands or pacifiers are obstructing the mouth or face
– Hair casting shadows on the face
– Exaggerated facial expressions (i.e. funny smiles, tongue sticking out, pouting face with closed eyes)
– Another person is holding the child
How to Take a Passport Photo
You can take your own passport photo from home by following these steps.
- Use a Camera or Smartphone: It’s possible to use an iPhone, smartphone, webcam, or digital camera to snap your picture. Selfies are prohibited, so use a tripod or ask a friend or family member. Take several photos just to be safe.
- Find Proper Background: You will need to find a non-textured solid white or off-white background with ample lighting. Avoid lighting situations that can cause shadows or red eyes.
- Wear Proper Attire: Wear clothing that doesn’t hide your shoulders, neck, or face. Two examples include neck scarfs and hooded sweatshirts (hoodies). Uniforms and camouflage are also prohibited.
- Centered and Neutral Positions: Be sure your head and shoulders are centered and you stare directly into the camera. A small smile can be permitted but your pose needs to remain neutral with open eyes and a closed mouth.
- Print or Upload: You can print your photos from home with a photo printer (just make sure the print quality isn’t dotty or smudgy) or pick them up at a local photo center such as CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart. In addition, online renewals can upload a photo.
What Happens if Your Passport Photo is Rejected?
Bad passport photos are the leading cause of delayed passport processing times, according to the State Department. In this situation, you will receive a letter requesting a new passport photo, including resubmission guidelines and a deadline (typically 90 days from the letter date).
Some of the most common reasons for rejected passport photos include:
- Improper background
- Posture isn’t centered or neutral
- Eyes are closed or glossy (red eyes)
- Shadows or obstructions over parts of the face (i.e., hair isn’t fully pulled back)
Passport Photos for Minors
As a parent of four children, I know how challenging it can be to get just one good photo when you need it most.
Taking these photos yourself can be less stressful than going to a passport photo center when your child may suddenly become camera-shy. The photo requirements are a little more flexible as getting a small child or baby to be still is trickier.
For example, the background can be a white or off-white blanket covering a car seat. Additionally, infants’ and newborns’ eyes do not need to be open. However, their entire face must be visible along with their shoulders.
The U.S. State Department includes several examples of valid and invalid photos here.
Digital Passport Photos
Online passport renewals can be processed sooner as these applications support uploading digital photos. You can use the U.S. State Department Photo Tool to instantly review your photo to determine if it meets the initial quality requirements.
While you don’t need to be a tech geek, there are several special digital photo requirements:
- Color: Must be a colored photograph with 24 bits per pixel in sRGB color space (this is the default setting for most digital cameras)
- Compression: No less or equal to 20:1 (to avoid overcompression, do to send via text message or save to a cloud-based application)
- Dimensions: At least 600 x 600 pixels
- Format: Must be in JPEG file format
- Size: At least 54 kilobytes (54 KB) and no more than 10 megabytes (10 MB)
The other basic passport photo criteria apply such as a white background, no obstructions or shadows, and being unedited.
Where to Print Passport Photos
If you need to print a passport or ID photo, there are several ways to do it for less than 50 cents for a single portrait.
You can order print photos for local pickup or mail delivery from several places, including:
- Drugstores: You can upload a photo to your shopping account or bring in your memory card. Next, you can print a single 4×6-inch photo for approximately $0.48 at CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid, or Walgreens.
- Walmart: Walmart remains one of the few retail stores offering self-service photo centers. You can upload pictures with ship-to-home delivery or in-store pickup. A 4×6” print can cost as little as $0.12.
In most cases, getting a 4×6-inch print is the cheapest option and you will need to trim it down to a height and width of two inches.
Other local businesses will also take your photo for you but don’t offer DIY passport services. The options include the FedEx Office, UPS Store, and participating post offices. On average, hands-on help costs from $10 to $17 for two passport-sized photos.
Free Passport Photos
You can also download a passport photo app that uses software to ensure your photo complies the first time. The basic service might be free but may not include a compliance check.
Therefore, opting for professional assistance costs a few dollars but can still be cheaper than going to the store for a full-service package.
Depending on the service, you can request mail or digital delivery. Some may also partner with a store for local pickup.
Three legit passport photo apps to consider:
- How to Check Your Passport Application Status
- How to Get a Passport Faster
- Passport Processing Times Right Now – How Long You Will Have to Wait
- Passport Book vs. Passport Card
Yes, you are allowed to take your own passport photo. Before doing so, familiarize yourself with size requirements, lighting, and other rules.
Yes, you can use your iPhone (or any smartphone with a working camera) to take passport photos. Just be sure that the photo quality and image meet the minimum requirements.
Yes, you can easily take your own picture, or have a friend get a snapshot, for you to get a legit passport photo for less than a dollar. Several passport photo apps can automatically prepare your image to meet compliance requirements.
However, you may decide to hire a professional service if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself or the process is too time-consuming.
Only online passport renewals qualify for digital photo uploads. All other applications require mailing one photo with your paper application.
Yes, if you have a photo-quality printer and paper. However, this equipment can be expensive and it can be more affordable to upload a personal photo to a photo printing service like CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Walmart, Shutterfly, or Snapfish for mail delivery or local pickup.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
Taking your own passport photo at home is a simple way to save money, especially when several household members are applying simultaneously. You can pay $1 or less per photo versus paying $10 to $17 for in-store passport photo services.
You may consider this option if you can access a white/off-white background and have a friend or tripod to hold your camera.
In addition to DIY passport photos, these travel tips can also reduce stress and make it easier to prepare for trips.
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