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How To Take Your Own Passport Photo at Home [Detailed Guide]

Katie Seemann's image
Katie Seemann

Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 27U.S. States Visited: 27

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure an...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury

Keri Stooksbury


Countries Visited: 39U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Taking your own passport photo might not be something you’ve thought of in the past. But in today’s world, the convenience of taking your passport photo at home is something you might want to take advantage of.

This guide will give you step-by-step instructions for taking your own passport photo, including photo requirements, so you’ll be ready to go the next time you decide to travel.

How To Take Your Own Passport Photo

Whether you’re looking to apply for a new U.S. passport or renew your current U.S. passport, it’s good to know that you can take your own passport photo quickly and easily.

Step 1: Take Your Passport Photo

  • Stand in front of a white background. You can’t digitally alter the background to make it white. If you don’t have any white walls, you can get a large sheet of white paper or poster board to tape up on the wall (make sure the edges of your paper and any tape you used are not visible in your photo).
  • Stand near a window on a sunny day for the best light. Don’t stand in direct sunlight because you can’t have any shadows in the photo. In any light, using a flash is a great way to avoid shadows behind your head.
  • Have a friend or family member take a close-up photo of your head and shoulders — selfies aren’t acceptable.
  • Make sure your photo meets all of the requirements in regard to your expression, pose, hair, etc. (details below).

Step 2: Upload and Resize To Fit Requirements

For Postal or In-person Applications

When applying for your first passport or renewing it by mail or in person, you’ll need to provide a printed passport photo in the correct size of 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm). You can upload your photo to many sites that will help format it to the correct size of 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) ready for printing.

Whichever site you choose to use, follow their instructions to upload, size, and order your photos.

For Online Renewals

Accepted space for a digital passport photo to be cropped. Image Credit: U.S. Department of State

When renewing your passport online, you can submit a digital photo rather than a printed version. The U.S. Department of State website has a photo tool that will resize and crop your digital photo to the required dimensions. You’ll still need to follow all the guidelines below on how to take a suitable passport photo, and when it comes to uploading your photo using this tool, you must also follow these guidelines:

  • The photo must be at least 600 x 600 pixels to allow room for cropping
  • It must be a color photo in sRGB color space (which is the standard output format for most digital cameras)
  • The uploaded photo must be in JPEG format
  • The size of the photo file must be larger than 54KB, but must not exceed 10MB
  • The photo compression rate should be less than 20:1, so it’s best not to send your photo by WhatsApp or any cloud-based applications

After submitting your photo via the photo tool, this will be reviewed by a Department of State employee who will confirm whether your passport photo has been accepted or not as part of your application.

Step 3: Complete the Process

If applying for your passport by mail, you’ll need to attach your photo to your application correctly. This is done with 4 staples vertically placed in the corners as close to the edge as possible. Your application will show marks exactly where the staples should go.

If you’re applying for a new passport in person, you can take this photo and your application to an acceptance facility. Expedited service may also be available if needed.

Hot Tip: Want to keep your passport looking stylish? Take a look at these passport holders and covers.

Passport Photo Requirements With Photo Examples

Passport Photo Basics

All passport photos must adhere to a very specific set of standards.

Your photo must be submitted in color and should be no more than 6 months old. The background should be white or off-white, and you can’t use any filters. You’ll also need someone else to take the photo as selfies are not acceptable for your passport.

Print Size and Quality

  • The photo must be high resolution and not pixelated, grainy, or blurry
  • The photo must be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm)
  • Head size must be 1-1 3/8 inches (25-35 mm) from the bottom of your chin to the top of your head
  • The photo must be printed on photo-quality paper, either matte or glossy
  • No digital changes are allowed (including changing your background to white or removing red-eye)
  • The photo can’t be damaged with holes, creases, or smudges
  • There shouldn’t be any shadows

Both of these photos are examples of approved passport photos:

These passport photos are acceptable. Image Credit: U.S. Department of State

These 3 photos are examples of passport photos that are NOT acceptable:

These passport photos are unacceptable for the following reasons (left to right): shadow, underexposure, and inaccurate colors. Image Credit: U.S. Department of State

Pose and Expression

  • Both eyes must be open
  • Your expression can be either neutral or with a natural smile
  • The photo must be a full-face view (side angles are not accepted)
  • Young children don’t need to make eye contact with the camera
  • Babies can be lying on their backs on a white blanket (for more tips, check out our step-by-step guide to getting a passport photo for your baby)

Both of these photos show examples of acceptable passport photo expressions:

These passport photo expressions are acceptable. Image Credit: U.S. Department of State

The following 3 photos are examples of passport photo expressions and poses that are NOT acceptable:

These passport photos aren’t acceptable because they (left to right) aren’t facing forward, display an exaggerated expression, and have a tilted head. Image Credit: U.S. Department of State

Attire, Hats, Glasses, and Hair

  • Glasses should not be worn. If you can’t remove your glasses for medical reasons, you’ll need to include a signed note from your doctor with your application.
  • Clothing should be your everyday attire. Uniforms, anything that looks like a uniform, and camouflage can not be worn.
  • Hair should not be covering your face.
  • No hats or head coverings should be worn. Exceptions include religious and medical reasons.
    • If you wear a hat or head covering for religious reasons, you’ll need to include a signed statement with your application that verifies your hat or head covering is worn continuously in public as part of your religion.
    • If you wear a hat or head covering for medical reasons, you’ll need to include a signed statement from your doctor verifying that your hat or head covering is worn daily for medical purposes.
    • If you have a religious or medical exception, your hat or head covering must not obscure your hairline or cast shadows on your face. Your full face must be visible.
  • No headphones or wireless hands-free devices can be worn.
  • Jewelry and facial piercings can be worn if they don’t cover your face.
  • Facial tattoos are acceptable.

Here is an acceptable way to wear a head covering in a passport photo:

Image Credit: U.S. Department of State

The 3 photos below are examples of passport photos with head coverings, accessories, and hair that are NOT acceptable:

These are unacceptable ways to wear your hair, accessories, and head coverings for a passport photo. Image Credit: U.S. Department of State

Final Thoughts

Being able to take your own passport photo saves you time, and that means you can get your passport application or renewal underway as quickly as possible. Plus, it’s nice to know that you can renew your passport without leaving home — a matter of convenience that’s hard to beat.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure and Forbes Advisor.


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Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.


Michal Kurdsy

July 26, 2020

Hi Katie,

haver you ever tried For me it’s absolutely the best site for passport photo!

Best regards

Seymour Hunter

April 30, 2021

Hello. I need passport photos for the renewal of a Jamaican passport. Can you do this because the photo that was sent was not acceptable? They say the photo has uneven lighting.

Jarrod West

May 03, 2021

Hi Seymour,

We are Upgraded Points, a website that publishes helpful information for travelers, so unfortunately we are not able to assist with taking your passport photos.

Ms. Brantley

August 23, 2021

Wow! It contains all of the information that is needed to take a passport photo at home, from hairstyles, lighting, facial expressions, background colors, and colors to actually wear. I am going to utilize all of this information and bite the bullet and renew my passport. Thank you.


March 13, 2022

Very detailed and easy to follow. Thank you for providing all the information. It’s extremely helpful. I’m very grateful!!


February 06, 2023

Nice detailed article summarizing how to take passport photos and how not to. When I have a larger number of photos from which I need to extract passport-sized photos I personally use a tool called Face Crop Jet. It auto-detects and crops face from photos in bulk.


June 19, 2023

Thanks for all the info! I just took a picture and used to print it, quite happy with the results and easy to use. Some of the services you mention above don’t actually work.

Keri Stooksbury

July 04, 2023

Hi Maria – Thanks for your tip. Any specific services you can let us know are no longer working?

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