Taking a decent passport photo may not seem like the biggest deal, and at the end of the day it really isn’t. But when you consider that your passport is going to be valid for the next 10 years, it’s not unreasonable to want to look like your best, most put together self. Unfortunately, most of us end up looking like washed out crazy people in our passports – and that’s not the impression you want to give off in customs. To avoid such an unfortunate result to your passport photoshoot, follow these passport photo tips.
Submitting Your Passport to Swift
If Swift will be handling your passport, there are two ways to submit your photo. First, you can email a photo to our team (email@example.com). We’ll size and print your photos for you for a small fee of $15. Be sure to:
- attach your photo to your email as a .JPEG (other picture types cannot be properly formatted)
- have someone else take your picture; do not send in a picture you took yourself
- use a digital camera; the camera on your phone does not have sufficient quality
- send your picture as is and do not resize it
Take Your Passport Photo at Home (Not Recommended)
In today’s digital age, we’re all used to taking pictures of ourselves and sharing them online. But, let’s be honest, these pictures aren’t usually flattering. So, when it comes to taking your passport photo, leave it to the professionals. Not only will they do a better job than you, but they’ll also make sure your photo meets the US State Department’s regulations.
If you do decide to take and print your own photo, follow these requirements:
- be taken within the last 6 months
- be 2 inches by 2 inches wide
- have a black and white background with no visible objects or patterns
- be taken in color without any flare
- show you facing forward and your ears need to be visible
Additionally, you cannot wear glasses, sunglasses, headbands or spaghetti straps. Most people do not realize that these items are not permitted. Photos printed on thin or non-photo paper will not be accepted, make sure it is printed on thick stock photo paper.
Pick a Solid Color Shirt and Eliminate Shine
Before you have your passport photo taken, choose a solid color shirt that complement your skin tone and that you won’t mind looking at for the next 10 years. Some powder on your face is a good idea to help avoid any shine, but if you don’t usually wear makeup, don’t decide to suddenly become a fashion model in your passport photo.
Photo Tips to Follow at the Passport Office
If you have to take the photo at a passport office, you won’t have any control over the lighting or how many retakes you get, so do your best to get it right the first time. Smile if you like to smile in pictures and don’t if you don’t. Sit with your shoulders back, your back straight, and your chin pushed a bit forward. Don’t point your chin up or you will have the unattractive result of too much nostril in your final photo. Likewise, you don’t want to point your chin too far down or you might end up with some unfortunate neck wrinkles or the appearance of no neck at all.
And finally, remember that however your passport photos turn out, it’s not the end of the world if the people at customs don’t think you take a very good picture. After all, whatever you end up looking like in your passport, it’s got to be better than how you look on your driver’s license!
Another option is to obtain two passport photos from a provider such as Walgreens, CVS, FedEx, etc. and then give us your photos along with your other passport documentation. As always, if you have questions about your passport photo requirements or our passport expediting service, do not hesitate to contact the SPS team by calling (877) 917-9438.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.