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How to Take a Passport Photo at Home

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If you’re jetting off on your travels this summer but need to renew your passport, the process has recently been made a little easier. Instead of tracking down a photo booth and paying for a set of passport photos as you usually would, you can now take your own digital passport photo at home.

You’ll need to find someone to help you, as you can’t take your photo yourself – which means no selfies. Unfortunately, you still can’t show off your best smile either, as the same strict rules around your appearance and pose apply for digital passport photos too. But this change does mean that you can save money, and hopefully some hassle, when renewing your passport – giving you a little extra spending money, and a less stressful lead up to your holiday.

You can submit your photo digitally as part of your online application to renew your passport, so you won’t need to worry about printing it out. If you don’t want to complete an online application and would prefer to fill out a paper form, then you’ll still need to get a traditional printed passport photo to send with your application.

Taking the perfect passport photo

Because of the rules around passport photos, you won’t be able to reuse an existing digital photo, so you’ll have to take a new picture specifically for your online passport application. Read on for some detailed passport photo tips to help you get your picture right first time.

Step one: Find a camera and a photographer

You can take your passport photo using any device that captures photo, whether that’s your phone, a digital camera, or a tablet. Then find someone to take your picture. You can’t submit a selfie as your passport photo, and you can’t use a webcam either, so you’ll need to find a helpful friend or family member to lend a hand.

A tripod is optional, but may make it easier to keep the camera steady and level.

Step two: Find a plain background and the right position

It’s important to use a plain background that is light grey or cream in colour. Avoid standing in front of tiled walls or patterned wallpaper, and make sure there are no objects in the frame.

Then get into position. You should stand 1.5 metres away from the person taking the photo, and half a metre from the wall.

Background for passport photo

Step three: Ensure there is space around your head and shoulders

Your photo should not be closely cropped – the Passport Office will crop your image once they’ve received your application. Check the space around your head and shoulders to ensure there is enough room around them.

Space around head and shoulders

Step four: Check the lighting

The best lighting is natural lighting, so if possible position yourself facing towards a window. There should be no shadows on your face or behind your head, and the light should be even. Don’t stand too close to a lamp, as this will only light one side of your face.

Correct lighting for passport photo

Step five: Remove headwear

You should take off any headwear unless it’s worn for religious or medical reasons. Remove anything that could obstruct your photo, such as hair clips or glasses on the top of your head.

Step six: Make sure your face and eyes are visible

Your whole face should be visible in the photo, so you may need to tie your hair back if it covers your face or eyes in any way. If you have a longer fringe, it may be best to sweep it to the side.

If you wear glasses, ensure that there are no reflections in the glass, as these can obscure your eyes. The Passport Office recommends removing glasses but if you must wear them, take care to avoid glare on the lenses. It’s also worth noting that sunglasses and tinted lenses aren’t permitted – save those for your holiday!

Eyes for passport photo

Step seven: Don’t smile!

Look straight at the camera with a neutral expression. Your mouth should be closed and you shouldn’t smile.

Once you’ve taken your photo, check that the image is clear and in focus, with no red-eye. You shouldn’t make any edits to your image using computer software.

There you have it, seven simple steps to help you take the perfect passport photo. We adapted these tips from advice provided by the Passport Office, and if you’d like more information, you can find an overview of the rules for digital passport photos on their website.

Imagery courtesy of the Passport Office.

photo book quality example

Off on your travels?

If you’re getting ready to go away, don’t forget to document your adventure so you can relive those happy holiday memories for years to come! See our ideas, tips and tricks for creating your very own CEWE PHOTOBOOK to commemorate your trip.

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Replies to “How to Take a Passport Photo at Home”

  • Antony Hanmore says:

    thank you great advise

  • amanda scaife says:

    when taking passport photos , there is always a shadow to one side every time, any ideas as how to take photos with a phone with no shadows?

  • Margaret pitcher says:

    Hello I’m enquiring if I can send a photo of my 3 year old. Stood in front of a white panel door. As that’s the only white place in the house. As tried taking him to a shop.to get it done. But he panics. Having it taken at home is more relaxed for Alex can you reply as soon as you can… thanx Margaret pitcher.

  • Brian Doran says:

    Thank you for your very helpful advice

  • Deb Herman says:

    Does this need to be a certain color background? This article doesn’t specify.

  • Suzanne Thorpe says:

    Very helpful – the photo booth in our city is either too light, too dark and recently out of order completely!

  • E. Cox says:

    Wow, this is so great! It was concise and I don’t have to pay 15.00 to get a photo at the post office! Thanks so much!

  • Margaret says:

    Thank you. I was so worried you help me out alot. I didn’t have the 16 dollars for the photo.

  • KB Richard says:

    What is step ? Do we print them out or how does the post office accept the image? off phone email to them usb CD? Thanks

  • Mary A. says:

    Just FYI. You cannot wear glasses in a passport photo anymore. I was just on the government website for renewing a passport, and their photo specifications say they’ve changed this now.

  • Maralyn says:

    Can you use a photo you take yourself if renewing at USPS?

  • Patricia says:

    I used a selfie and had CVS print it out. One thing, no glasss are permitted anymore.

  • Gordon Willett says:

    My concern is how do I get the photo for my passport renewal the correct size I will be using my iPad it states the photo should be 600 x 750 pixels can you please assist with an explanation how I develop my photo the correct size or is it sized when I send the information along with the photo in online

  • M A C says:


  • Joginder Singh -Prem from Nottingham says:

    Hi very helpful article. Thank you. Is the digital code – image name which is often appeared under the image- jpeg. Please help.

  • NW says:

    No info about print size???

    • Kate Higginson says:

      Hi there, this is a guide to submitting your photos digitally with an online passport application, so to do this you won’t need to print out your photos. If you would prefer to submit a printed photo with a traditional application, the required size is 45mm x 35mm.
      Thanks, Kate from CEWE

      • Julia says:

        According to our government website, you cannot submit passport applications online – only in person or by mail. A bit confused by this…

  • Paul says:

    The local court house would not accept digital photos printed on photo paper using an ink jet printer for my son’s passport photo. The photo looked great but they didn’t like the paper.

  • Alfonso Longoria says:

    Then do I just crop and adjust the photo to the required spec’s ?

    • Kate Higginson says:

      Hi Alfonso, if you’re submitting your photo online you won’t need to crop it or adjust it at all – the Passport Office request the unedited photo so they can alter it themselves.
      Thanks, Kate from CEWE

  • Stuart Rodger says:

    You can definitely wear prescription glasses in a UK passport photo – but they must not be tinted or be sunglasses. There should be no reflective glare from the lenses and your eyes must be visible. This is the most up to date information from the UK govt website on August 31st 2019.

    The rule for removing all glasses seems to relate to US passports only.

  • Denise says:

    Hi what about the sizes stipulated?

    • Kate Higginson says:

      Hi Denise, the sizes only apply if you are printing a copy of your photo – if you’re submitting it online you should just send the original, unedited photo. Hope this helps!
      Thanks, Kate from CEWE

  • Angela adcock says:

    Once you have taken your photo how do you load to the online passport form if your doing it on a laptop

  • Rachel Wilson says:

    Hi just downloaded the photo and the application comment says that it cannot find the head outline although head is clearly visible and adheres to all the specifications.. Can I continue.. it’s asking me why I want to use the attached photo.. is that normal??

  • Sandra Foster says:

    Can I use an existing photo already in my phone?

    • Nella says:

      In the blog, it says, “Because of the rules around passport photos, you won’t be able to reuse an existing digital photo, so you’ll have to take a new picture specifically for your online passport application.” I would suggest taking a new photo and use that one. Just follow the seven steps above.

  • Nyarko Frimpomaa Ahenkan says:

    Please I want add a passport photo to my appilication

  • Candice says:

    So how do you renew and fill out all this online since you’ll have to send in your old passport with the new stuff?

  • Patti Phillips says:

    You ARE absolutely allowed to smile as long as it is a natural looking smile. My husband and I both recently renewed our passports and we are both smiling in our photos.

  • Henry Killingsworth says:

    I found it helpful when you mentioned that it is important to keep a neutral expression when you are taking a passport photo. My wife and I want to travel abroad next summer, so we thought it would be a good idea to get the process of getting ours now. It would probably be important for us to find a business that can print our passports for us.

    • Suzanne says:

      Very helpful on how to take the photo but not too clear on how to download onto the passport application form on the computer. As I am a little dyslexic I would appreciate some help on how to do that.

  • Lakalakamanako says:

    I try to take a photo for my renewal online new zealand passport i sent one already they dont accepted that they ask for a digitial image…please how to do that …can i do it from my phne or ipad pls

  • Ana says:

    Thank you for this info, is very helpful 👍🏽

  • Erin says:

    New update says you can actually smile. Just can’t show teeth.

  • SharonV says:

    Can you take your own photo if this is your first passport? My 16-year-old son is getting his passport for the first time. Great article. Thank you!

  • Michele S says:

    Do you have any app in mind to crop the pic 2”x2” so I can print at home with an appropriate photo paper?

  • Fakir a sharif says:

    Hi I want some photos for my passport application please

  • SuziCC says:

    Why do they want everyone to look like criminals? These are basically mug shots. I never actually look like these photos make me out to look like. Why can’t we just look normal??? Ugh. Suzi

  • Don Lee says:

    Seems that the online passport renewal site (US) wants the renewal form filled out online, then printed out and mailed in.
    So I will ask specifically: Is it permissible, having taken a photo that complies with the specifications listed, to print the photo myself, trim it to physical size to attach it to the mailed form per specifications, or do I have to have it professionally printed?
    When I first got my passport 10 years ago, the photo was taken at a post office and printed out on a little portable inkjet.

  • Kebra Haynes-Onassis says:


  • Di says:

    You cannot renew passport online. You can fill out paperwork and must mail in along with old passport and fees.

  • Jamiethea says:

    Will this work if it’s my first time applying for a passport

  • Blieme says:

    Hi I’ve taken the passport photo but where do I develop it?has to be small like a passport photo?

  • Ruth says:

    Really helpful advice, especially as I don’t want to go anywhere to get it done at the moment due to the Covid crisis.

  • Katrina says:

    Just wanted to know what size I should have for a passport photo?

  • Amber Gardner says:

    Once I received my passport in the mail I threw away the original photos without realizing the online visa process requires we upload a photo. Can I just take a picture of my passport photo, which has lines through it, since they will already have a picture of my passport?

  • Patricia says:

    I live in England, unfortunately we live in a Tudor house with lots of wood in the walls. Can I get a passport photo done and then put it on my computer to go with the on line application.

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