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      What’s the Passport Photo Dress Code? What to Wear for a Passport Photo

      Holly Riddle
      What to Wear for a Passport Photo

      Getting a new passport or renewing your passport can be a lengthy process. If you don’t provide a passport photo that meets government standards, getting that new passport or renewing your passport can take even longer — and when you have an upcoming trip planned, that’s often extra time you don’t have.

      To get your passport application or renewal processed as quickly as possible, try to follow all the U.S. Department of State’s rules and guidelines for submitting your passport documentation and photo to a tee. 

      You probably already know that the photo should show just you, from your shoulders up, and your photo should show you against a plain, white background. You probably also know that you can get a professional passport photo at various retailers, including at office supply stores and pharmacies and that you can also take your own passport photo at home.

      However, did you know there are specific rules regarding what you can and can’t wear in a passport photo? Here’s what you need to know about the passport photo dress code.

      Passport Photo Clothing Requirements

      The U.S. Department of State provides some basic guidelines for what you should and shouldn’t wear when taking your passport photo. Most guidelines focus on accessories or items that could hide or distort your appearance.

      Clothes and accessories that you can wear in your passport photo

      – Normal, everyday streetwear
      – Facial piercings (so long as they do not conceal your face in any way)
      – Permanent facial tattoos

      You can likewise take your passport photo with facial hair, even if you don’t always sport facial hair. You can also take a passport photo while your hair is dyed.

      Do note that if you apply for a passport before getting a significant number of facial piercings or tattoos, you may need a new passport that more accurately reflects your current appearance.

      Clothes and accessories you can’t wear in your passport photo

      Eyeglasses of all types, including prescription glasses and sunglasses

      Yes, that’s right. Even if you wear eyeglasses every day because you literally can’t see without them, you’ll have to remove them before you take your passport photo. 

      The only instance when this is not the case is if you cannot remove your glasses for medical reasons. You’ll need a signed doctor’s note verifying this to submit with your passport application. However, this rule is really not worth your time trying to get around. Just slip off your eyeglasses for a few seconds and get that passport photo.


      If you wear a uniform for work, you won’t want to head to the pharmacy right after your shift to take your passport photo. Uniforms of all types are not permitted in passport photos. In fact, you can’t even wear outfits that look like uniforms.

      Camouflage prints

      Leave the camo jacket at home this time. Camouflage prints are not permitted in passport photos.

      Head coverings

      Hats and head coverings are not allowed in passport photos generally; however, there are some exceptions.

      The Department of State will allow you to keep your head covering on if you wear the head covering for religious or medical reasons. In both cases, you’ll need to include a few extra items in your passport application. 

      Suppose you wear a head covering for religious reasons. In that case, you’ll need to write and sign a statement that confirms you wear your head covering at all times in a public setting. 

      Similarly, suppose you wear a head covering for medical reasons. In that case, you’ll need a signed doctor’s statement that says you wear the covering daily.

      Even if you have one of these notes, you still can’t wear just any head covering. The head covering must not cast a shadow over your face and cannot conceal any part of your face.

      Headphones or Bluetooth devices

      Headphones, AirPods, Bluetooth devices — if it’s something that you’d use to listen to music or take a call, remove it from your face before getting your passport photo taken.

      Masks (including Covid-19 masks)

      Since a passport photo must show your entire face without any distractions or obstructions, you cannot wear a face mask like what one might wear to prevent the spread of Covid-19, in your passport photo.

      How to Pick the Perfect Passport Outfit

      Your best bet for picking the perfect passport outfit? In addition to avoiding all of the clothing and accessories above that will result in your application being denied or delayed, wear your regular, everyday clothing, opting for non-distracting patterns and accessories. Go minimalistic. Don’t wear oversized accessories. If it conceals any part of your face or head, just assume you can’t wear it.

      That said, you likely would still prefer a flattering passport photo, so opt for a color that compliments your complexion. The best colors include darker hues that won’t blend in with the white passport background (which can result in your photo being rejected). Avoid wearing shades of white, beige, gray, or pastels.

      What About Makeup?

      For passport photos, just as you should with your clothes, opt for minimalism. Don’t wear any looks that are over-the-top or that alter your appearance in a significant way. Keep your natural skin tone. Don’t use any products that are shiny or glittery, which can create a glare and create the need for a new photo.

      Further Reading: Can You Wear Makeup in a Passport Photo?


      Can I take my own passport photo?

      Yes! However, do note that doing so can be difficult. You’ll need a completely white background and the proper lighting, as well as someone to help, as passport photos cannot be selfies. It’s just easier (and more affordable) to have the photo taken professionally at a nearby retail location.

      Can you wear lipstick in a passport photo?

      Yes! However, choose a lipstick color that is not overly flashy or shiny. Go with a matte finish and pick a subdued color that will not be distracting.

      Do I need a photo for a passport card?

      Yes, you’ll still need a photo for a passport card, and the same rules apply to passport card photos as passport book photos.

      Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. 

      Holly Riddle Headshot

      By Holly Riddle

      Holly Riddle is a freelance travel, food, and lifestyle journalist who also dabbles in ghostwriting and fiction. Her work appears in publications ranging from Global Traveler to Golf Magazine, Mashed to Forbes, and Bloomberg. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in the Adirondacks. Her favorite travel destinations include Chicago and New Orleans.