How to take a passport photo at home

Advertiser disclosureHow to take a passport photo at home
By Guy Lelouch
Published on Jun 07, 2022
Edited by Daniel Zeevi

If you’ve ever tried to get your passport or ID photo taken at a government office or a pharmacy, you know what a hassle it can be. Having to take time off work, wait in long lines, and pay ridiculous fees, all for a little two-by-two picture that looks like something you could’ve taken with your own phone.

All of this may have left you wondering: can I take my own passport photo?

The good news is that you can. We’ve assembled this thorough guide to explain exactly how you take your new passport photo at home.

How to take a passport photo at home: What you need to know

The most important part about taking your own new passport photo is knowing the correct passport photo requirements to meet. According to the State Department, passport photos that don’t follow the proper passport photo template are the number one cause of application delays. In order to make sure you get your passport back on time, you’ll need to know a few basic rules.

The State Department requires that all passport photos must at a minimum:

  • Be recent—within the last six months  
  • Be in color—not black-and-white
  • Be clear with no filters or pixelation
  • Be taken by someone else or with a self-timer—no selfies
  • Have a neutral or plain background

Photos that don’t meet these basic guidelines will immediately be rejected, and your application will be put on hold until you can send in a new photo.

Now, we’ll go over more specific requirements your passport photo will need to meet in order to get your application approved.

For further information on how to get a passport fast, read our helpful guide!

Posing for your passport photo  

Can you take passport photos at home? Absolutely, but when posing for your passport photo, it’s essential to keep in mind certain passport photo requirements that could disqualify your photo.

  • Lighting – Passport photos must be taken in even lighting that doesn’t cast any shadows on the subject’s face or leave them too washed out. A good way to ensure that your photo has the correct lighting is to take it by an open window in natural light.
  • Sizing – Taking a passport photo from too close or too far away could disqualify your application. Your passport photo should only show from the top of your head down to your shoulders with your head centered, facing the camera lens, and fully in frame.
  • Note: If you want a more precise way of measuring if your photo meets requirements, your head should take up between 1 and 1.4 inches of the 2×2 inch picture.
  • Smiling – When posing for a passport photo, you’ll need to make sure that your eyes are fully visible. This means keeping a neutral expression on your face or only a small smile that doesn’t squint your eyes.

Taking kids’ passport photos

Anyone with children knows that getting them to pose for photos can be difficult, which is why we have some extra tips for taking passport photos of children.

  • All photos should contain only one individual. This means that no parents’ faces or bodies may be visible.
  • To take photos of infants, try laying them down on a plain white sheet or putting them in a car seat with a sheet over it. Infants are not required to have their eyes open during photographs but must have their heads fully facing the camera.
  • Children’s hair should be kept tucked back, and they should not be touching their face.

What to wear for your passport photo

There are not a lot of rules about what you should wear while getting your passport photo taken, but as a general guideline, it’s best to dress in the clothing you normally wear on a daily basis.

A few items that are prohibited while taking a passport photo include:

  • Eyeglasses
  • Uniforms
  • Headphones
  • Hats – if you wear a hat for religious or medical reasons, you must submit a statement with your application to verify this

What to use to take your passport photo  

You can use any device that captures photos to take your passport picture, including a digital camera, a smartphone, or a tablet, just so long as it can take high-resolution images. For this reason, web cameras or non-smartphone cameras are not recommended.

When printing your passport photo, you’ll need to make sure the photo:

  • Measures 2×2 inches
  • Is on matte or glossy photo paper
  • Is undamaged without printer marks
  • Has not been copied or digitally scanned
  • Has not had any digital alteration after being taken

Sending in your passport photo

After you have your perfect passport photo printed and ready to go, all you’ll have to do is attach one copy along with your passport application.

To simplify the application process, our platform helps you complete your passport application without having to visit a local passport office. All you need to do is fill out this form to get started. You can also learn more about passports on your website like What is the Difference Between a Passport Book and Card and How Much Does a Passport Cost.


Guy Lelouch
About the author
Guy Lelouch, founder and CEO of GovPlus, drives government digital transformation with his expertise in technology and public policy by creating efficient, transparent, and user-friendly services.

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