Photo requirements as of November 1st, 2016
If you research passport photo requirements, one of the main things that will pop up is that you are allowed to wear your prescription glasses in your 2x2 passport photo. This may seem odd because if you continue reading the requirements, it states you cannot have anything obstructing your face and you must be able to visibly see your eye color. As professional passport expeditors, we have witnessed first-hand the applications that get rejection slips from the US Department of State because of a glare from the eyeglasses in the photograph. This delays the processing and the applicant must always go back and redo the photographs and then send in new pictures. There has been a lot of debate over wearing prescription eyeglasses in passport photos and the US Department of State has finally come to a conclusion. As of November 1st, 2016 you will no longer be able to wear prescription eyeglasses in your passport photo. Many may disagree with the decision as it is a part of who they are but, passport photos are meant to be clear, visible and reflect every detail of your face.
When taking your passport photos, you want to make sure that your photo is printed on glossy or matte 2x2 inches of quality paper. Your head size must be between 1- 1 3/9 inches from the bottom of the chin and the top of the head. Your photo must reflect your current appearance meaning the photo must have been taken within the last 6 months. The background must be plain white or slightly off-white. We recommend not wearing a white shirt as you will blend in with your background and just be a floating head. This can also be a reason the passport photo will be rejected. Uniforms are not acceptable in passport photos either, nor is camouflage attire. Tank tops are never a good idea, especially if you want to travel to certain countries who have strong religious views. Make sure your head is facing directly at the camera both eyes open and maintain a neutral expression. If you smile, show teeth, or your eyes squint, then your photo will be rejected.
Passport photos must be in color and you want to make sure nothing is obstructing your face such as hats, headphones, wireless d hands-free devices. If you wear a head covering for religious reasons please make sure it does not cast a shadow over your face. If you get your passport photo taken professionally at a post office, CVS, Walgreens, Kinkos or anywhere that offers this service- most employees know these restrictions, but it can never hurt to be prepared. There also are passport photo apps and digital uploads, where you can take the photo at home and have a passport specialist review your photo, give you tips and pointers, and once they approve your passport photo they will print and mail your photo to you!
Taking a minor's passport photograph can be tricky, especially when dealing with a newborn. The same requirements listed above apply but here are some pointers, do not stress if your newborn’s eyes aren’t completely open and alert it is ok for their eyes to be partially open as long as they are looking directly at the camera. Make sure the infant/toddler is the only person in the photo if they cannot sit or stand alone maybe try laying them down on a white sheet or even cover the baby’s car seat with a white sheet ensuring the baby's head is supported.
Lastly, a lot of people may question when is the right time to change your passport photo even if your current passport is not up for expiration. Unfortunately, if you do not like your passport photo that is not good enough cause for a new one nor is other minor changes such as hair color or growing a beard. The only real reason to update your passport photo is if there has been a significant change such as; facial surgery/trauma, added or removed large facial tattoos or piercings, undergone a significant weight loss or gain or made a gender transition. For minor passports, the Government understands the normal aging process so even if your child was issued a passport when they were a newborn and they are now 2 years old that is still not an acceptable reason for a new passport.
So, just to recap all of the photo requirements for your United States passport are staying the same except as of November 1st, 2016 you will no longer be able to wear your prescription eyeglasses in your passport photo due to obstruction of the face. And remember if you are wearing your eyeglasses in your current passport photo this does not apply to you. This will be for future passport applicants!
For more information please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/photos/photos.html
UPDATE: There's a new app on the market that will change the way passport photos are taken. The newly released Passport Photo Creator mobile app utilizes biometric facial recognition software to take a 100% compliant passport photo. Download the app to take your own passport photo and print within 1 hour. The Passport Photo Creator provides the user with error alerts so you can re-take your passport photo until it’s perfect and compliant. The app integrates with one-hour photo printing to over 8000 Walgreens locations. Photo rejections are the primary reason a passport application is denied. Don’t let a bad photo ruin your passport application and your upcoming trip. The Passport Photo Creator will always give you a picture perfect passport photo every time!
Passport Photo Creator application is available on iOS and Android
No Glasses for Passport Photos