How to look good for your passport photo

How to look good for your passport photo

You’re going to have your new passport for the next ten years – we’re sure that you want your passport photo to look as good as possible! No one wants to have a photo that makes them look older than they are, or ill, or unhappy. And did you know you can take your own passport photo now too? recently caught up with a friend of ours in the passport and visa expediting industry. She’s a former model who knows all kinds of tricks to look great in front of the camera… and she’s seen thousands of passport photos, good and bad! She filled us in on insider’s tips to taking a great passport photo.

What to Wear… and What Not to Wear!

The first thing to consider is your wardrobe. Keep in mind that the passport photo will only show your head and shoulders. It doesn’t matter what you wear below the waist, but the area around your neck will be visible in the photo.

If you’re renewing your passport, don’t wear the same clothes you wore in your last passport photo. If your new photo looks too much like the old one, it could be rejected because the Passport Agency won’t be able to confirm it was taken in the last six months.

Clothing DOs and DON’Ts

  • DON’T wear glasses! Your photo could be rejected and your application put on hold if you submit a photo with glasses. Especially if your glasses have a glare on the lenses.
  • DON’T wear anything on your head – no hats, headbands, or scarves. If you wear religious headgear on a daily basis, you are allowed to wear it in your passport photo as long as your face is clearly visible. You’ll need to also submit a letter explaining your religious headgear.
  • DON’T wear a uniform of any sort. The Passport Agency will reject photos that show you in uniform.
  • DO opt for business attire or a collared shirt for your passport photos. This isn’t a State Department rule – they don’t care whether you’re in a sloppy sweatshirt or a suit and tie. But if you ever have to present your passport for a business visa, or show it to a new employer as part of your paperwork when you are hired, you’ll be very glad that your passport photo supports your professional image!
  • DO wear a shirt or dress with a high enough neckline that it will show in the final picture. “I’ve seen too many passport photos where the traveler was wearing a tank top or a shirt with a wide v-neck,” our model friend says, “and when it’s cropped and printed onto the passport book, it looks like she’s naked!” Again, this isn’t an official rule, but it might save you some embarrassing moments at the airport!
  • DO consider wearing a color other than black or white. Your photo will have a plain white background, so a colored shirt will help ensure your photo doesn’t look washed out. Is there some color you always get compliments when you wear? Go ahead and wear it for your passport photo!

Makeup – Put Your Best Face Forward!

Sad but true: photo retouching isn’t allowed in passport photos. You aren’t allowed to PhotoShop out your blemishes or dark circles. But you know what is allowed? Makeup!

How to look good for your passport photo

Makeup can make a big difference between a mediocre photo and a fantastic one. Remember that makeup always looks more subtle in photos than it does in the mirror, so don’t be afraid to wear a heavier than normal coat of foundation and plenty of powder to keep down shine. (Another model tip: if your face is looking shiny, a brown paper napkin makes a great blotting paper in a pinch. Grab a few extras when you’re at the coffee shop!) Highlighting and contouring the face with light and dark makeup is a standard in the modeling industry; there are lots of great tutorials on YouTube if you want to give it a try.

And guys? No one will ever know if you used a dab of concealer on your under-eye circles, or a little bronzer or translucent powder to even your skin tone. It’s what celebrity actors do before they step in front of any camera!

Hairdos and Hair Don’ts

Our friend, the former model, confessed a secret to us. “When I renewed my passport recently, I had my passport photo taken right after I had my hair cut. Now, for the next ten years, my passport will show me with my hair professionally styled!”

Whether or not you decide to hit the salon first, here are some tips on how to style your hair for your passport photo.

  • Make sure your hair isn’t covering your eyes or eyebrows. All of your features must be visible.
  • If you have long hair, we recommend that you brush it back behind your shoulders so your shirt is visible. If your hair is covering up all your clothing, it’s another reason that you might look naked in the photo!
  • Don’t wear thick headbands, large hairbows, or scarves in your hair. These could be considered “headgear” and could get your photo rejected! Thin ponytail holders, bobby pins, and small barettes are just fine.

Strike a Pose

Finally, practice your pose before you head to the photographer. Your passport photo needs to show you looking straight forward with a neutral expression, but that doesn’t mean you have to look grim. Sit up straight and roll your shoulders back to elongate the look of your neck. Although you can’t smile widely or show your teeth, you can channel Tyra Banks and “smize” – smile with your eyes! Many people also worry about looking like they have a double chin in photos, which often happens if you tip your chin downwards. Don’t be tempted to lift your chin upwards to correct this – this will just expose more of the area under your jaw and make it look larger. Instead, thrust your chin forward an inch or so, as if you were a turtle poking your head out of your shell. It will feel awkward and unnatural, but it will make your jawline look firm in the photo.

Make Sure You’re Happy With Your Passport Photo

Don’t accept a photo with bad lighting (such as overexposure or shadows across your face), poor printing quality, or an unnatural color cast. If you are paying for a passport photo, you should get one that will definitely be acceptable to the State Department… and to you!

How to look good for your passport photo

A passport is constant proof of yourself. You might be exhausted, bewildered, and vaguely sticky, but your passport photo is visual testimony. I don't always look like a crushed feather. Your passport says, "This is my appearance, officially! By government mandate, this is my nice face. This is what I look like with color in my cheeks and two open eyes. This is what I look like when my hair hasn't been smushed against a dubious headrest for two naps and the fitful duration of my transatlantic flight."

For 10 years, my passport recorded one of the most stressed-out images of a human face in existence. Because of some poor planning and a last-minute trip to an emergency passport office, I'm wearing a gray sweater, I'm visibly sweaty, and cowed by bureaucracy. I'm famous in my family for this disaster and perhaps famous among customs officials for looking very panicked.

This photograph was so discouraging that I was finally moved to renew my passport well ahead of its expiration date. I had a college roommate's wedding to attend in London, a hazy idea about Spain in the summer with my partner, and it was 2020, after all — a year of promise. Those plans were all dashed.

Above: The author in her best passport shot yet.

Courtesy of author

My passport photo doesn't know anything about that. She's sweet and cheery and excited about Europe. Not exactly ill-advised, I went to have the photograph taken after a HIIT class. I swooped on some mascara and eyeliner in my car, which I'd parked in a primo spot in front of Whole Foods. I remember feeling like I was actually traveling: a woman on the move, a mobile genius. And the workout class had given my face a nice glow, or at least that's what the endorphins raging around in my brain told me.

The other cells in my brain were focused on a famous passport photo I'd seen a few years before of Prince with a pert smirk that looked like he had just invented a new language — and would never teach it to you. His face was attentive, louche, and most of all, highly glossed. I had to push that image out of my mind because, in general, passport-photo-taking wisdom dictates avoiding any glossy makeup, which can badly refract light. And I don't have Prince's photo-editing team at my disposal. But, in homage to the icon, I decided that hair, my only asset in this world, would be nicely curled around my head.

As the photograph was taken, I was preoccupied with an enduring piece of advice about ID photos that proved helpful: If the frame of the photograph is small, the model (in this case, me) should aim their chin forward to lengthen the neck. But I think because I was mostly thinking about Prince, my expression turned out to be very unstressed.

For a year, my passport wallowed in the back of my underwear drawer. What had felt so important and crucial — access to the world — became an official document of stagnation. But when I felt her slippery little faux-leather surface while searching for a particular pair of undergarments, I'd pull her out to wistfully look at my photo. My face was full of bright-eyed, worldly sophistication. I was glammed-up in the traditional staging area for passport photographs, an emporium famous for its soft, flattering, warm lighting: the local CVS.

Next to the passport is a small cardboard holder containing the extra two-inch-by-two-inch copies of the photo that CVS had generously given me. I didn't know what to do with them, but I have just now decided that the friends I had planned to visit in the past year will each receive a token of me for their wallets, minimal context provided. I know it's just what they've been missing.

A few tourists you might recognize: Jacqueline Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Whitney Houston.

Getty Images/ Amanda Edwards

Get the Shot

No, not that one. (But, yes, get that one, too!) The one you mail to the government to be minted in your travel credentials for the next 10 years. The ideal passport photo should represent a person clearly. Why shouldn't it also represent them beautifully? See the guide below for details.

It's what hairstylist David Lopez calls a "forever look": a tight ponytail that "lines up with your cheekbones and crown." Keep in mind that if you wear your hair down, you may be asked to expose your ears for the photo. (The United States prefers to see them.)

If renewing a passport is on your to-do list, these pointers will get you closer to the photo of your dreams.

You probably know how to renew your passport, but taking a great passport photo can feel like a straight-up struggle and a source of major anxiety. With adult passports valid for 10 years, it’s understandable you want to snap a great (or at least good) photo. Besides putting your best face forward, there are actual rules a passport photo must abide by or it’ll end up like the nearly quarter of a million pics that weren’t accepted in 2017, causing the number one delay in passport processing according to the U.S. Department of State.

To save time, money, and your sanity, check out the tips below to take the best passport photo. These include what to wear for the perfect outfit, how to pose, and even why saying “mocha” can result in a perfect smile.

Take Your Photo Near a Passport Agency

It’s pretty easy to find a location that will take a passport photo. Your local drugstore chain, pharmacy, and even FedEx and UPS offer the service. But these employees tend to be rushed, less than skilled at taking photos, and you usually have one or two shots to nail the photo. If you’re fortunate enough to have a passport agency near you, you might have better luck finding a location near the agency that takes pics. These places are usually more skilled at snapping photos, have better lighting and tend to have better camera equipment. That all equals a better photo for you.

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How to look good for your passport photo

How to look good for your passport photo

How to look good for your passport photo

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Avoid Certain Shirts

A strapless top is a passport photo faux pas for obvious reasons, right? Since the photo is cropped right at the bustline, it can, obviously, make you look like you’re not wearing a shirt. Also, though a TSA agent might not judge you for your choice of style (and who cares if anyone does judge you for this, generally), think about your future employer or professional situations. If you ever need to show your passport to a boss or colleagues for onboarding paperwork or travel purposes, the appearance of being topless is not a good look.

Embrace a Bit of Color

Since you’ll need to be photographed in front of a white or off-white background, wearing those colors is a no-no unless you want to look like a floating head. Go full-on and embrace color or opt for a neutral hue that still stands out like a navy or cobalt blue. It can be helpful to go through your phone’s camera roll to see what colors best compliment your skin tone.

Rock a Timeless Style

Some fashion trends are just that: trendy. But do you really want to wear an of-the-moment garment for a photo you’ll have for the next decade? Instead, opt for a forever-in-style piece like a turtleneck or collared shirt or a print (like plaid or stripes). The same goes for accessories. Massive bib necklaces had a major moment years ago, but now they would just look outdated. A simple stud, small hoops, or thin necklace would keep a pic from looking timestamped.

Choose Your Hairstyle Wisely

For those with longer and/or big hair, lessen the chance of your photo being rejected by making sure your locks aren’t casting shadows or obscuring any part of your face. That can mean pulling your hair up or back and if you have bangs—that’s fine—just as long as they’re not covering your eyes.

Wear More Makeup Than You Normally Would

If you choose to wear makeup, just go one step further than your everyday routine. You don’t have to have a full about-to-star-in-a-play face, but maybe an extra layer of foundation, concealer under the eyes, or color on the lips and cheeks. The camera picks up everything so even if the makeup looks a bit heavy in person, it’s totally fine in a photo. Finding the fine line between looking polished but still looking like yourself is the key.

Look Head-on at the Camera

The camera lens should be directly at eye level. Anything higher or lower and you risk the camera looking up your nose. This is especially helpful if you’re taking your own passport photo but also comes in handy if you’re dealing with a less than experienced photo at a local, random drugstore that takes passport photos.

Find the Light

You can’t do much about the lighting at locations where you’re paying someone to take your photo, but if you’re taking your own pic, choosing the best light is key. Go for natural sunlight and stand in front of a window so the light is directly in front of you. Also, stand about an arm’s length distance from the wall or backdrop so there aren’t any shadows. If natural light isn’t an option or it’s a gloomy day, play around with artificial lighting so the photo is well-lit and doesn’t cast shadows on your face or the background. Finding the right light and taking test shots can feel time-consuming but it’s better than having to reshoot photos that have been rejected.

Master the Natural Smile

The State Department’s website reads travelers should “have a natural facial expression or natural smile, with both eyes open.” That wide grin with teeth showing and eyes squinting will most likely be revoked. Instead, think of something low-key pleasant. It can be a person, place or thing. Something that just brings a soft smile to your face. You can also try saying or mouthing “mocha.” Words that end in “uh” create a softer, natural smile. And for people who blink a lot, keep your eyes closed and only open them on the photographer’s count of three.

Strike a Pose

Just before you’re about to take a picture, some things tend to happen. Your body tenses up and you get the deer in headlights look. However, the perfect pose is pretty easy but might feel awkward at first. Sit or stand with your legs shoulder-width apart (crossing your legs can make you lean to one side more than the other, versus being perfectly straight) and keep your shoulders back. Don’t forget to lengthen your neck and extend your chin a bit; this is the part that can feel awkward. But in photos, it gives the appearance of a long neck.

Pack a Small Kit With Essentials

If you’re heading somewhere to get your photo taken, don’t forget to bring along a few items for last-minute touch-ups. This can include a teeth whitening pen for those coffee sips. And whether you wear makeup or not, bring oil-blotting papers, as the camera picks up even the slightest bit of shine. Also, pack a stick of gum. If you suffer from dry mouth then you know how difficult it can make smiling. Chew gum for a few seconds to get the saliva flowing and loosen up that formerly dry, stiff smile.

You must provide one photo with your passport application.

All our photo policies apply to both adults and children under age 16. We have a few exceptions to our photo policies for infants.

  1. Submit a color photo, taken in last 6 months
  2. Use a clear image of your face. Do not use filters commonly used on social media.
  3. Have someone else take your photo. No selfies.
  4. Take off your eyeglasses for your photo.
  5. Use a plain white or off-white background.

Already have a photo?

Use our Photo Tool to crop your photo so it’s the right size. Compare your photo with examples of good photos.

Note: this tool is intended for cropping your photo only. You cannot digitally submit a photo to us. You must provide a physical photo with your application. After you apply, a U.S. Department of State employee will review your photo and decide if we can accept your photo.

COVID-19 Update: Face Coverings and Masks

We realize customers may wear face coverings and masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

When someone takes your passport photo, you must remove your face covering or mask so your full face is visible and the face covering and mask do not block portions of your face. We need to see your full face to establish your identity.

We encourage you to stay six feet away from the individual taking your photo so you are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations on social distancing. Please do not take a selfie because they are often the incorrect size and have the wrong head position for passport photos.

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How to look good for your passport photo

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It’s almost travel season—which means you are that much closer to having to pull out your passport and brace yourself for one long cringe. It’s no secret that people do not look their best in their identification photos. After all, it’s hard to strike a good pose when there is a harsh flash that momentarily blinds you, morphing your face into something that either resembles a very surprised and slightly anemic ex-convict, or someone with an intense case of Sickly Resting Face. Even worse? If it’s a passport and you are over the age of fifteen, be prepared to live with that mug (shot) for five years. Luckily, instead of getting laughed at by border patrol (true story), we rang up makeup artists Romy Soleimani and Gucci Westman for five simple tips on how to transform your passport photo into something that you’re happy living with—even past its expiration date.

Start with a corrective makeup primer. “I would focus on giving yourself some color. There is a harsh flash, which creates a really blown-out lighting, making you look almost green, like the background,” says Westman, who suggests Revlon Photoready Perfecting Primer for the occasion. “An apricot-toned formula will counteract any discoloration under your eyes, which is often brownish or purple, and will help with the texture of your skin” for an all-over healthier effect.

Give extra attention to dark circles. “I’d say use concealer or powder—even if you aren’t the type of person to normally wear those products,” says Soleimani of diffusing especially bluish undertones beneath the lower lash lines. In normal life, she adds, “it’s all about dewy and fresh, but with flash, you don’t want shine under your eyes.” Try a pressed powder like Clé de Peau Beauté’s translucent formula, and then add a concealer, like By Terry’s Touch Expert Advanced brush, on top.

Give a little lip. “On the mouth, try marker balms like Revlon’s Colorburst Matte Balm, in a rose or berry shade,” advises Westman. “You can make it as deep as you want because the texture of the product makes your lips feel nice and gives them a bit of luster, so they aren’t cracked or dry—just healthy-looking.”

With many occasions when passport acts as the only legal identity proof, we always want to look as good as possible in our passport photo.

Follow our simple tips and you will find that fine balance between restrictions and looking good with the right amount of make up.

How to look good for your passport photo

Tip # 1: Look good – feel good in your passport photo.

The passport photo for documents will accompany you for many years. To increase the chances of liking yourself in the photo, find that make up bag and give a little touch to your face before standing in front of the camera. Here are tips for passport photo make up choice :

  • Too visible makeup is not allowed (red lipstick, pronounced eye liner, dark eye shadow). The goal is to recognize you on the identity photo, so keep it simple!
  • Opt for a “nude” make-up in shades close to your skin tone;
  • Avoid shine on your face and lips, use a light powder to mattify your complexion.

Tip # 2: Practice having a neutral face expression for your passport photo

Keep in mind the following photo standards for face that are necessary for the photo to be approved.

  • Clear your face: tuck your hair behind the ears, or tie it up.
  • For the bangs, put discreet hair clips or put strands on each side of your face.
  • Sit up straight, with your face looking straight at the camera.
  • Keep a neutral face expression with your mouth closed.
  • Do not wear glasses: even though it is not prohibited, it is also not recommended.

How to look good for your passport photo

Tip # 3: Take your passport photos from home!

Use smartphone iD app to take a passport photo whenever it is convenient for you:

  • You have an unlimited number of tries for the perfect photo.
  • No stress as you can take your time to get a photo that you are satisfied with.
  • Receive your photos by email or post.
  • The photo can be used for any document with identification photo as they strictly comply with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards;
  • No format, lighting, background modification necessary – leave it in our hands.

Now no more excuses, you have all the techniques to achieve the prettiest look in your passport photo!

Learn more :

Download our app for free

Create approved biometric photos with your smartphone and receive them by email or post. Speed up your document application process by using a valid and confirmed photo for any document worldwide. Photo accepted by the government or money returned!

How to look good for your passport photo

You’re going to be looking at your passport photos for the next ten years, so you want it to look great every time you flash yours at customs.

Thankfully, you can take your own passport photo nowadays (although the U.S. State Department specifically forbids selfies ). That means you’re no longer stuck taking it under the lovely fluorescent lights of your local Walgreens.

But, there are rules for what you can wear for a passport photo. Pretty wild, huh?

Read on to learn what to wear — and what not to wear — for a passport photo that looks good today, and ten years later when your passport is filled with stamps from all over the world.

What not to wear for a passport photo

First up, let’s cover what not to wear when taking your passport photo. The State Department will reject photos if you’re wearing:

  • Glasses
  • A uniform or camouflage attire
  • Hat or head covering (although there are some exceptions for religious or medical purposes)
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Any jewelry that covers up your face

What to wear for a fabulous passport photo

The purpose of a passport photo is to identify you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little style. Here’s what to wear for a passport photo that looks good and gets approved!

How to look good for your passport photo

Outfit ideas for your passport photo

The State Department prefers if you wear everyday street clothes for your passport photo. Although, while athleisure maybe your everyday look — and it’s totally okay to wear yoga clothes in your passport photo — we wouldn’t recommend it. It’s common to use your passport as one of your identification documents when you get a new job, and it can be awkward to have HR Xeroxing a photo of you in a crop top for your employee file.

Instead, we recommend wearing a more professional outfit, like something you might wear at the office. Shirts, sweaters, and dresses are all great options, but pay special attention to the collar. It’s better to wear something with a higher neckline so that it shows in the final cropped version of the photo. If you’re wearing a boat neck or tank top, it could get cut out, and then it looks like you’re naked! Oops!

How to look good for your passport photo

Also, you’ll need to take your photo against a white or off-white background, so consider wearing a darker color so you don’t blend into the wall!

Jewelry and passport photos: yay or nay?

Yes! You can wear jewelry in your passport photo, so long as it doesn’t obscure your face. We recommend a subtle pair of studs or a simple pendant necklace. You don’t want it to cause glare or be too distracting.

What you can’t wear, surprisingly, is your glasses! So make sure to wear your contacts or just take your glasses off when it’s time to say cheese.

Passport photo hair and makeup tips

Your hair cannot obscure your face. So, if you wear your hair down, tuck it behind your ears or pin it back as Kim K. did . Just be sure to use bobby pins and nothing that could be classified as “headgear” (like a headband, barrette, or scrunchie). Of course, you can always make it easy and go with a cute ponytail.

Makeup, like your hair, should also be clean and simple. Go for a fresh-faced, everyday look. BuzzFeed’s got a great guide to doing your makeup for photos so you look on point.

How to look good for your passport photo

Strike a (passport) pose

Finally, it’s time to take your passport photo! It can help to have Madonna’s “Vogue” playing in the background.

Passport photos are pretty limited when it comes to acceptable poses. You’ll need to look straight into the camera and have a neutral expression, although a small closed-lip smile is okay (no teeth!). Stand tall, roll back your shoulders, and bust out your best smize a la Tyra Banks .

Roam often, stay stylish.

  • Tags: Travel Style, What to Wear

About Roam Often

Roam Often was founded by female travelers who decided to make products that make traveling easier while keeping you feeling confident and fashionable on-the-go. Here you’ll find travel jewelry cases, travel scarves, hair tie bangles, and other travel accessories. We also feature various travel, fashion, and jewelry tips on our blog. Roam often, stay stylish!

How to look good for your passport photo

We all have at least one cringe-worthy passport or license photo in our portfolio—whether it’s the “dead eyes,” “prison mugshot” or “I-smell-a-skunk face”—but you never have to be a victim again. Get your photo taken on the weekend when you have time to ask the tech to take several quick snaps and choose the best of the bunch. Also be sure to follow our tips for styling your hair, makeup and clothes. We visited Domenico & Drea salon in Toronto’s Yorkville with intern Meghan to get suggestions from the pros. Guaranteed, you’ll be able to smile as you hand over your “I’m sexy and I know it” photo on your next trip to the club or out of the country—every time for the next five years!

How to look good for your passport photo

Top model Jessica Stam looking pretty on her Ontario license

How to look good for your passport photo

American editor Eva Chen’s stylish passport photo

Tip #1. Wear Your Hair Down

Even if you have supermodel cheekbones, head-on non-smiling shots taken in haste generally aren’t good for the self-esteem—and wearing your hair in a messy ponytail is only going to make matters worse. If you’re really organized, plan your snaps for a day when you’re already getting a haircut or blowout. Trust us: When your hair looks good, you look good.

Domenico Sanelli, co-owner of Domenico & Drea, offers blowouts starting at $35, but if you plan to style your hair yourself, he suggests focusing on the roots first and making sure they’re completely dry. “They’re the healthiest and they hold the most water,” he says. “If your hair starts to frizz and poof an hour after you blow dry, it means you missed some of the water in your hair.” Taking better care of your locks will also result in a better hair day. Deep condition or slather your strands in coconut oil once a week and try to shampoo your hair less often. Only shampoo every three or four days and on the other days “give your scalp a good scrub with your fingers [when you’re in the shower], then add conditioner on the ends.”

How to look good for your passport photo

Co-owner Domenico dries Meghan’s locks

Tip #2. Neutral Makeup Is Key

Whether your photo is in colour or black and white, bright makeup often looks garish and unflattering when photographed under fluorescent lighting. Instead, apply neutral shadows, a soft blush and a little rosy lipstick or gloss. Makeup artist and co-owner Andria Mendocino-Sanelli used a BB cream on Meghan’s whole face, including as a shadow primer for her lids, and blended it into her neck. She suggests using a concealer duo to mix your own perfect shade. “For your under eyes, it’s always good to go a little lighter if you have dark circles,” says Andria. “But if you have an imperfection, you want to go a little closer to your skin [tone].”

“Keep blush close to the natural colour of your skin,” says Andria, “And choose a matte [formula] to avoid any sparkle.” She also dusted a rose-hued shadow on Meghan’s lid and applied a neutral lip liner and gloss to Meghan’s lips. She suggests filling lips completely with liner to prevent a visible line when your gloss or lipstick wears off.

Skip harsh eyeliner, because if your line is even a little off (say there’s a slight wiggle on one eye, or the left flick ends slightly higher than the right), your eyes will look wonky in your pic. Andria chose to tightline Meghan’s upper lid (meaning, she rimmed the inside of the lash line) with a brown liner and only applied mascara to the upper lashes.

Tip #3. Get Matte Fast

“Even if you don’t wear powder, today is the day,” says Andria. She set Meghan’s makeup with a loose powder and suggests soaking a makeup sponge in water, squeezing out the excess, and dotting your face with it to blend and prevent a cakey finish. Bring along blotting papers and dab your face before getting snapped to remove excess oil and shine.

How to look good for your passport photo

Co-owner Andria freshens Meghan’s makeup

Tip #4. Stick To Wardrobe Staples

If you have dark hair, wear a light coloured shirt and vice versa. Since the background is often white, choose a coloured top in a hue that flatters you. If you always get complements on the shade of your teal sweater, for example, wear it!

Tip #5. Practice Your Smize

Tyra Banks has often been mocked for her tendency to “smize” (smile with her eyes) in photographs, but the woman knows how to work a camera. The big benefit of the “smize” is that it brightens up the face and prevents sour or angry expressions (even without an actual smile). Practise relaxing the tension out of your face muscles and smizing into the mirror. The goal is to look calm and confident, without appearing bug-eyed.

Your passport photo must be a portrait image, in colour, and taken within the last 6 months. Selfies are not accepted.

Photo checklist

You need to get someone else to take your photo. Selfies change the way your face looks, so they can’t be used in your passport.

The photographer needs to:

  • take a portrait photo with a 4:3 aspect ratio, or 3:4 on a smartphone
  • stand around 1.5m away from you
  • hold the camera at eye level.

If the camera is too close to your face, your nose and forehead may appear larger and your ears less visible.

How to look good for your passport photo

There must be a strong contrast between your face and the background.

  • Use a plain, light coloured background – light blues, greys and creams work well.
  • Stand about half a metre away from the background.
  • Make sure there are no people or objects in the background.

How to look good for your passport photo

Your head must be in the centre of the photo, with a clear gap around the sides and top of your head.

Include part of your shoulders and upper chest in the photo.

How to look good for your passport photo

  • your face is fully visible, and not tilted or turned to the side
  • your hair is out of your eyes, and away from the sides of your face.

How to look good for your passport photo

You can wear prescription glasses in your photo as long as they are not tinted or thick-framed. You cannot wear sunglasses.

If you wear glasses in your photo, make sure:

  • there is a clear gap between your eyes and the frames
  • there is no glare or flash reflection on the lenses.

How to look good for your passport photoHow to look good for your passport photo

Keep a neutral expression with your mouth closed.

How to look good for your passport photo

You must not wear a head covering in the photo unless you wear one for religious or medical reasons. If you do, you need an endorsement in your passport.

If you do wear a head covering for religious or medical reasons, make sure your face is fully visible.

How to look good for your passport photo

Your appearance should not be digitally altered in any way. Do not use a filter or change the way you look using photo editing software.

Your passport photo must be in colour. Do not use a black and white photo.

Taking a photo of a baby

Lie the baby flat on a plain, light coloured sheet.

The photo should be taken:

  • from above
  • with the baby’s eyes open and face in full view
  • without people or objects in the background.

Video guide for smartphones

If the person taking your photo is using an iPhone or Samsung, check out our tips in the videos below.



The generator provides over 70 passport / visa photo templates.

Step 1: Use a digital camera or a smartphone

Find someone to take the photo for you and selfie photo is not acceptable for passport photo application. If you have a tripod, use it. A tripod will make it easier to keep the camera steady and level.

Step 2: Find a venue with plain background and good lighting

Depending on your country , there may be a slightly different background color requirement. For the most of the countries, the background should be plain white. Make sure that there are no other objects in the background. When taking photo, you should face the light, such as a nice bright window or the door. This can provide even lighting to avoid shadows on the face and background.

Step 3: Wear properly for your passport photo

Do not wear a uniforms. Wear regular street clothes in your photo.

Do not wear eyeglasses. If you wear glasses, sunglasses, or tinted glasses, take them off for your passport photo.

Your face must still be fully visible. Don’t let your hair drape over your face and obscure your eyes. If you have very long bangs that cover your eyebrows, you should pin them back with bobby pins. It’s best if your ears show, as well, but that won’t cause your photo to be rejected.

No hats are allowed in passport photos unless it is religious headgear such as a headscarf or yarmulke that you wear every day.

Step 4: Pose for a passport

Look straight towards the camera with face straight on. Head should not be tilted or rotated.

Both ears showing or both edges of the face visible if hair covers the ears.

Shoulders should be visible, and there should be enough space around the head for cropping the photo.

Position the camera in the same height as the head.

Step 5: Have a neutral facial expression

You can smile in your passport photos, but the government prefers that you have a neutral facial expression.

Smiling or having your mouth open is usually not acceptable, especially under the new international passport rules.

Good and bad examples of passport photos

How to look good for your passport photo

How to look good for your passport photo

Step 6: Take a photo and crop the photo using the online passport photo generator

It will help your to make use the head size is correct in your passport photo. You can generate a printable passport photo and a digital passport photo for online submission.

You need 2 identical printed photos if you are applying for a passport using a paper form.

You need digital photos to apply for a passport online.

You must get a new photo when you get a new passport, even if your appearance has not changed.

Your photo must have been taken in the last month.

Your application will be delayed if your photos do not meet the rules.

You can get help with your passport photos if you’re disabled.

The size of your printed photos

You need to provide 2 identical photos.

  • measure 45 millimetres (mm ) high by 35mm wide (the standard size used in photo booths in the UK)
  • not be a cut down version of a larger picture

If you use a photo booth outside the UK, check it can give you photos that measure 45mm high by 35mm wide.

The size of your image

The image of you – from the crown of your head to your chin – must be between 29mm and 34mm high.

How to look good for your passport photo

The quality of your printed photos

Your photos must be:

  • printed to a professional standard
  • clear and in focus
  • in colour on plain white photographic paper with no border
  • without any creases or tears
  • unmarked on both sides (unless a photo needs to be countersigned)
  • unaltered by computer software

What your printed photos must show

Your photos must:

  • be a close-up of your full head and upper shoulders
  • contain no other objects or people
  • be taken against a plain cream or light grey background
  • be in clear contrast to the background
  • not have ‘red eye’

In your photo, you must:

  • be facing forwards and looking straight at the camera
  • have a plain expression and your mouth closed
  • have your eyes open and visible
  • not have hair in front of your eyes
  • not have a head covering (unless it’s for religious or medical reasons)
  • not have anything covering your face
  • not have any shadows on your face or behind you

Do not wear glasses in your photo unless you have to do so. If you must wear glasses, they cannot be sunglasses or tinted glasses, and you must make sure your eyes are not covered by the frames or any glare, reflection or shadow.

How to look good for your passport photo

Photos of babies and children

Children must be on their own in the picture. Babies must not be holding toys or using dummies.

Children under 6 do not have to be looking directly at the camera or have a plain expression.

Children under one do not have to have their eyes open. You can support their head with your hand, but your hand must not be visible in the photo.

DIY Passport Photo | How to Take Passport Photos at Home

Who has time to run around town looking for a place to take your passport photos? Yea, that’s what we thought. Life is busy and full of surprises which is why it’s no surprise that wasting time searching for a post office should not be on the to do list. Digital technology has exponentially increased the convenience of everyday life. Instead of standing in long lines and wasting precious time, you now have the option to DIY passport photo from home or office. If you have an Internet connection, you’re all set.

You may ask how to take passport photo at home. Well, it’s quite simple and less complicated than taking a picture anywhere else, especially if you go with iVisa Photos.

Frequently Asked Passport Photo Questions

Can You Take Passport Photos at Home?

Yes, but you will need to have the proper lighting, background, equipment, and follow the facial feature guidelines.

Can I take a passport photo with my Iphone?

Yes, you can use your iPhone, Android device, or other smartphone to take your passport photo. Make sure you follow all guidelines when taking the photo to include a white background, good lighting, and a friend for assistance (selfies are not allowed).

How Do I Take a Passport Photo at Home?

To take a passport photo at home you will need to have the proper lighting, background, equipment, and express the correct facial features.

Here are some tips and tricks to look for when taking a photo at home or office:

  • Lighting. This is the upmost important detail to doing it yourself. Shadows on the face or background are absolutely not allowed and usually cause rejection. The image has to reflect your true skin tone. As such, using a brighter, natural light rather than a soft, yellowish fluorescent is much more desirable. If a flash is used, bounce it to the ceiling and not directly at your face. This eliminates red eye and unwanted shadows.
  • Background Depending on your country of origin, you may have a slightly different background color guideline. For the most part, it will need to be solid white or off white without any patterns or prints.
  • Equipment. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can use those. Just make sure your face is squared with the camera and the tops of your shoulders are visible. Have a DSLR? Set it up on a tripod or have someone else take it for you. Don’t worry about format or sizing as we take care of the details for you.
  • Facial features. Avoid smiling and keep your eyes open. Look straight ahead at the camera. If you have glasses, be sure there is no glare on the lenses and your eyes are fully visible. Should the frames obstruct your eyeballs, simply remove them for the photo.

Abiding by these tips and tricks will assure a much faster return and acceptance by your country’s government. Lucky for you, aside from the above details, we take care of the rest. Our handy passport photo booth app makes it simple and easy when taking a picture from home. Plus you can retake it if you don’t like it without being charged again. If something goes wrong on the site or with the app, give us a ring as our representatives are standing by to assist. We guarantee 100% compliance before submission to the government. This should give you peace of mind and get you on your way to paradise faster. The question now shouldn’t be how to take passport photos at home but rather what should I be packing for my vacation? We suggest a bikini and sunglasses.

How to take passport photo at home without shadow?

If your passport photo has too much shadow you will need to diffuse the light. A bright natural light will help. If there are shadows on the wall try using a lamp to illuminate the wall behind you. This should reduce the shadows. Shadows on the passport photo may cause it to be rejected.

Your frontal pose looking directly at the camera lens and showing your full face must be used. Rotation or tilting of the head either in an up/down or left/right direction must be avoided. The mid points of the mouth and the bridge of the nose should lie on an imaginary vertical line in the center of the image.

Your expression should be neutral with both eyes open and mouth closed. There should be no hair covering the eyes. Contrived expressions such as raised eyebrows, squinting or frowning are not acceptable.

When having their photos captured, applicant may smile, but without showing their teeth and gums. The ‘Mona Lisa’ smile is recommended.

Eyeglasses should always be removed before capturing the applicant’s photo. The use of contact lenses for medical reasons is accepted, provided that the contact lenses do not change the applicant’s true eye color. Therefore, applicants are advised to take off their contact lenses before having their photos captured.

As much as possible, both ears of the applicant should be visible.

These accessories should be removed prior to photo capturing. Frizzy/afro hairstyles should be neatly arranged showing full frontal facial image. The wearing of earrings is not allowed.

Infants or very small children who are unable to support themselves should be assisted by either parent or their guardians. Hands, arms, etc., used to support the child should not be visible. High-chair for minor applicants may be used, if needed.

How to look good for your passport photo

Let's face it, driver's license, photo ID's and passport photos more often than not end up looking like mug shots. No one wants to have an embarrassing, ugly photo that makes you look sick or years older than your actual age. Unfortunately the US State Department will reject any photo which has been retouched, "Photo-Shopped" or doesn't meet the minimum requirements per their set guidelines.

The good news is that you can help yourself in getting a great passport photo. Follow any or all of these simple tricks and you're on your way to a professional looking image for the next ten years.

1. NO GLASSES. The Passport agency does not allow you to wear glasses, nor do they allow you to show your teeth or smile. Wear a different outfit than you did on your previous passport photo. If you have amazing genes and don't look like you've aged much, the Passport Agency could reject the photo based on lack of proof that the photo was taken within the past 6 months. Nothing should be worn on the head. No headbands, hats, scarfs or large hair ties.

To recap. NO Glasses. NO Teeth. NO Headgear. NO Disguises.

2. WEAR SOME MAKEUP! Now here's where it gets interesting. The Passport Agency doesn't seem to mind if you wear makeup. Male or female, it's OK. And men, nothing to be embarrassed about. Use a little concealer to cover those dark circles under your eyes and you'll look significantly better than if you didn't. Makeup can make a big difference. Don't be afraid to pile on a heavy coat of foundation and powder to keep the shine down. OK. Maybe not to this extent. Natural looking is fine. Caked on clay exfoliating mask. Not OK.

3. DON'T WEAR WHITE! Avoid wearing white as the background is white and you may end up looking like a weird floating head on your photo. Another thing I've seen and think you may want to steer clear of is a deep V-neck or anything off the shoulders. You'll end up looking naked! Yikes. And although the Passport Agency doesn't mind if you wear a tank top or ratty stained T-shirt, you might run into future embarrassment if a future employer asks you for a copy of your passport during your hiring process. It's always best to wear a collared shirt or business attire. However NO uniforms of any kind are permitted. Keep it conservative!

4. DON'T ATTEMPT TO TAKE YOUR OWN PHOTO. As easy as it may seem, passport agencies tend to revel in rejecting photos for even the slightest imperfection. A slight smirk or smile is a big NO-NO. Ears covered with hair? Shadows behind your head? Hair covering your eyebrows or eyes? Incorrect head size or photo? These are all reasons for rejection. Foreign passports present another challenge altogether. Precise sizing varies from country to country. Don't risk having your passport photo getting rejected! At 60 Minutes Photo, we have specific software to ensure your photo is taken correctly. We guarantee our work.

5. GET A MAKE OVER . The absolute best time to get your photo done is right after you get your hair cut or styled! Plan a day at the spa and stop by 60 Minutes Photo on your way home and you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Applying for a passport can be a lengthy and expensive process, with the normal processing time taking six to eight weeks (right now, it can take up to 11 weeks for routine processing), and the cost to renew more than $100 in the United States. Avoid adding any extra time or expense by making sure you meet all U.S. passport photo requirements when you apply.

You don't have to go to a passport photo center and pay extra for official passport photos, but if you take them yourself, you need to be sure to follow these rules. And even if you do go to a passport photo center, there are extra rules to be aware of to be sure your passport photo is accepted.

U.S. Passport Photo Requirements

Passport photos must be in color and taken with a plain white or off-white background, according to the U.S. State Department.

The photo must have a clear image of your face, and no filters. Passport photos are definitely a #nofilter zone. Also, no selfies allowed. Someone else must take the photo, or you can use a tripod.

Photos must be high resolution, not blurry, grainy, or pixelated. The photo must be printed on matte or glossy photo-quality paper and cannot be digitally changed — so no photoshopping out blemishes or fixing red eye. The photo also can't have holes, creases, or smudges.

All photos have to be 2 x 2 inches (or 51 x 51 mm), and your head in the photo from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head must be between 1 and 1 3/8 inches (or 25 – 35 mm).

No Glasses

In 2016, the United States passport rules changed to say no glasses are allowed in passport photos, even if you aren't using a flash camera. If you still have a photo with glasses on, that's fine, but when you renew, you'll have to be sure to take a glasses-free photo.

If you can't take off your glasses for medical reasons, you need a signed note from your doctor with your application.

Recent Photos Only

The photo must be taken in the last six months, according to the U.S. State Department. So you can't go the online dating route and use a nice photo of yourself from 10 years ago.

No Posing

Save the sultry or silly poses for Instagram, says the State Department. In passport photos, you have to have "a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open." No big cheesy grins, no silly faces, no pouts.

In your photo, you also must be facing the camera directly with your full face in view. If you are getting a passport photo for a baby or young child, this is harder than it sounds. There is more leniency for baby passport photos, according to the State Department.

No Uniforms or Costumes

Passport photos are not the place to make fashion statements. The State Department wants your photo to be "taken in clothing normally worn on a daily basis." However, no uniforms, or clothing that looks like a uniform, or camouflage clothing is allowed.

You also can't wear a hat or head covering in your photo.

If you wear a hat or head covering for religious reasons, you need to submit a signed statement that "verifies that the hat or head covering in your photo is part of traditional religious attire worn continuously in public," according to the State Department's website.

And if you wear a hat or head covering for medical reasons, you need to submit a signed doctor's statement "verifying the hat or head covering in your photo is used daily for medical purposes."

Even with those signed statements, your full face has to be visible and your hat or head covering cannot obscure your hairline or cast shadows on your face, according to the State Department.

Also, no wearing headphones or wireless, hands-free devices. So keep the Bluetooth earpieces and Airpods in your pocket, please.

However, you can wear jewelry and keep on your facial piercings as long as they do not hide your face. "Permanent tattoos are acceptable for passport purposes as well," according to the State Department.

Passport photo requirements have changed—archived. Your photos must be taken no more than 6 months before the date you submit your application.

Canadians living in the United States and abroad

Our requirements for passport photos are different from those in the United States and other countries. Photos for Canadian passports must be taken in person by a commercial photographer or studio. They must also comply with all of our photo requirements. If they don’t, we will reject your application.

Bring the Passport photo specifications to the photographer or studio to make sure they meet the correct photo requirements.

You must submit 2 identical and unaltered photos with each passport application.

Photo requirements

Your passport photos must be:

  • clear, sharp and in focus
  • taken with a neutral facial expression
    • eyes open and clearly visible
    • mouth closed, no smiling
    • uniform lighting and with no shadows, glare or flash reflections
    • face and shoulders to the camera: straight-on, centered and squared
    • a plain white or light-coloured background with a clear difference between your face and the background. Photos must reflect/represent natural skin tones.
    • the height of the face measures between 31 mm (1- 1/4 inches) and 36 mm (1- 7/16 inches) from chin to crown of head (natural top of head)
    • we don’t accept photos printed at home and photos printed on heavy weight paper

    What is an altered photo?

    An altered photo refers to any photo that has been edited or changed in any way, by any means, and includes:

    • technical corrections or enhancements, such as:
      • adjustments to colour, brightness, contrast or sharpness
      • cutting and pasting the subject against a white background
      • changing size or shape of eyes, nose, mouth or ears
      • removing glare
      • removing red-eye
      • changing hair colour
      • eliminating wrinkles, blemishes or birthmarks

      Back of photo details

      On the back of 1 photo

      • the photographer must put a stamp or written information showing the
        • date the photo was taken
        • name and complete address of the photo studio
        • clearly write “I certify this to be a true likeness of (applicant’s or child’s name)” for an application
        • sign the back of the photo

        If you’re renewing an adult passport using the Simplified Renewal application form, you don’t need a guarantor.

        Extra details

        We accept photos with:

        • glasses worn if:
          • your eyes are clearly visible
          • there is no glare on the lenses
          • your full face is clearly visible
          • the head covering doesn’t cast shadows on your face

          Photos may be in colour or in black and white

          We don’t accept photos with:

          • sunglasses or tinted eye glasses (even when the eyes are clearly visible)
          • red-eye effect or red-eye alterations
          • hats and head coverings not worn daily for religious beliefs or medical reasons
          • shadows, as lighting must be uniform to avoid shadows:
            • around the ears
            • in the background
            • across the face or shoulders

            Child photos

            Child photos must follow the same rules as standard passport photos. They must show your child’s head and shoulders only. Parent’s or child’s hands must not appear in the photo.

            For newborn babies, the photo may be taken while your child is sitting in a car seat, as long as:

            • a white blanket is placed over the seat behind their head
            • there are no shadows:
              • around the ears
              • in the background
              • on the face or shoulders

              We recognize the difficulty in getting a neutral expression from your newborn. We do allow some range for infant facial expressions.

              Examples of acceptable passport photos

              These photos don’t represent the actual size of a passport photo.

              How to look good for your passport photoUniform lighting
              How to look good for your passport photoHeight of face correct
              How to look good for your passport photoCorrect child pose

              Examples of unacceptable passport photos

              These unacceptable passport photos show you what to look for before you submit your application.

              How to look good for your passport photoNo contrast
              How to look good for your passport photoShadow behind ears
              How to look good for your passport photoHands in picture
              How to look good for your passport photoReflection on glasses
              How to look good for your passport photoFace not square to camera
              How to look good for your passport photoFacial features not clearly visible
              How to look good for your passport photoMouth open
              Tinted eye glasses cannot be worn
              Wrong format

              How to look good for your passport photo

              At G3, we’ve been expediting passports since 1994, and that means we’ve seen a LOT of passport photos. The clothes, accessories, and hairstyle in a passport photo can make the difference between a passport you love and one that makes you cringe every time you pull it out. Pick the wrong items, and your photo might even be rejected by the State Department!

              Today we’ll review your best options to get the perfect passport photo. We will also review the items that you aren’t allowed to wear in your passport photo. We’ll also share our recommendations for the kind of attire that will help you get the best photo for your new passport.

              Mobile Apps to Get the Perfect Passport Photo

              How to look good for your passport photoA non-compliant passport photo is the #1 reason for passport application rejections. There is a free mobile app that uses government compliance checks to ensure you get the perfect passport photo. The Passport Photo Creator mobile app lets print your perfect passport photo to any Walgreens nationwide. Your passport photo will be ready for pick up within 1 hour and you only pay for your photo when you pick it up at Walgreens. This app is easy-to-use and a great way to take your photo at home as many times as you want. You will love your passport photo when you use this free mobile app.

              The Passport Photo International mobile app is an alternative app using the same technology as the Passport Photo Creator. This free app will let you download your perfect passport photo for $6.99. The smart technology will help to eliminate the rejection and delay of passport applications due to non-compliant passport photos and antiquated systems. The benefit for the user is the assurance that their passport photo will not be rejected- saving everyone time and money.

              “Convenient and easy-to-use, the Passport Photo International allows users to quickly take the perfect passport photo and ensure it will meet and exceed the strict government requirements all within our application and go to print in under 30 seconds.”

              These Items Will Get Your Passport Photo Rejected

              There are some things you might wear in your passport photo that you’ll regret in years to come. That too-trendy haircut or neon green sweatshirt might be embarrassing someday, but they don’t violate State Department rules. But there are some things that you are absolutely forbidden to wear in your passport photo. Wearing any of the items listed below can cause your passport photo to be rejected, and your passport won’t be issued until you provide a photo that meets government standards.


              The State Department changed their rules last fall, and you may no longer wear any type of glasses in your passport photo. Take your glasses off before the camera snaps!


              All types of uniforms are forbidden in the photo you submit for your passport. No military uniforms, flight crew uniforms, or professional uniforms can be worn. You’ll need to wear regular street clothes in your photo.

              Hats and Headgear

              No hats are allowed in passport photos unless it is religious headgear such as a headscarf or yarmulke that you wear every day. If you do wear religious headgear, you’ll need to make sure that it isn’t covering your face at all. For example, you may wear a hijab scarf, but not a niqab that covers most of your face. You’ll also need to submit a letter explaining that you wear the item for religious reasons every day.

              Hair That Covers Your Face

              When you style your hair for your passport photo shoot, make sure that your entire face is visible. Don’t let your hair drape over your face and obscure your eyes. If you have very long bangs that cover your eyebrows, you should pin them back with bobby pins. It’s best if your ears show, as well, but that won’t cause your photo to be rejected.

              Headbands and Large Hair Accessories

              Don’t wear headbands or any bulky hair accessories when you go to get your passport photo. We’ve seen too many photos rejected because the applicants were wearing a headband. This rule even applies to those cute baby headbands that so many parents like to put on their infant daughters! You should also avoid any large hair clips, bows, “scrunchies” or ribbons. If you need to pull your hair back, opt for bobby pins or thin ponytail holders.

              Wear This, Not That

              Over the years, we’ve learned that some kinds of outfits look better in passport photos than others. Below, we’ve listed some of our “best practices” for passport pictures. The suggestions we’ve listed below are not State Department rules, they’re just some guidelines to help you choose the best outfit to wear when you get a photo taken for your passport.

              Wear a Collared Shirt, Not a Tank Top

              One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing clothes for your photo is that the picture will be cropped when it is printed on your passport. All that will be visible is your face and the area around your collarbone. That’s why we think it’s best to wear a collared shirt or a top with a high neckline. We’ve seen photos in which the applicant wore a tank top or a shirt with a wide v-neck, and on the passport, it looks like they aren’t wearing any clothes at all!

              Wear a Color Other Than White

              Your passport photo must have a plain white background, so if you wear a white shirt, it may blend into the background and leave you looking like a floating head.

              Go For Classic, Not Trendy

              You’re going to have your new passport for ten years, and ten years is a long time when it comes to fashion trends! It’s best to opt for clothing, hair, and makeup that is relatively neutral and timeless. Otherwise, your passport might start looking dated long before it expires.

              What’s most important, though, is that you choose an outfit that makes you feel confident. As long as you aren’t wearing glasses, headgear, uniforms, or hair in your face, your passport picture will be just fine!

              Before 2018, the last time I looked decent in my passport photo was when I was a baby. For my driver’s license, I always look like a shady person, but I blame it on the Philippine government’s cheap ID card material and printers. Ask any Filipino and they’ll tell you horror stories of getting their driver’s license.

              When I dabbled in beauty editorial for magazines, I learned through fellow beauty editors how they were able to look great in their driver’s licenses, passports, and visas. After years of trial and error, I finally did it! And no, there’s no need for you to pull a Hollywood diva stunt by bringing your own photographer, makeup artist, and lighting crew. But there is a process involved.

              How to look good for your passport photoThings I need to travel: MacBook for blogging, mirrorless camera, secondary hipster camera, big map for flat lays, lots of coffee, sunnies, and most of all… a decent passport/visa photo! For security purposes, I can’t share with you my visa photo. But trust me, I look goooooooddd!

              When you have to be photographed in the government office

              In the Philippines, this applies to the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) for your passport, LTO (Land Transportation Office) for your driver’s license, and any other government agency that requires you to wait for long hours before sitting or standing awkwardly in front of everyone else in the room as a grumpy employee takes your photograph.

              1. Practice your Mona Lisa smile at home. The government employee doesn’t care if you look like an ogre in the photograph—a misrepresentation of the fabulous queen or king that you are in real life. The nicer ones will allow one re-take, and that’s it; you’re stuck with that photograph for the next two years or so. You better master the art of smizing without tilting your head (straight front angle only!).

              2. Do the polished natural makeup look. I’ve heard of horror stories where Filipino government employees asked girls to remove their makeup and false eyelashes on the spot because they deemed it “too much.” The objective isn’t to look like an overly contoured Kardashian heading to a party, but to be the best natural version of yourself. There are hundreds of YouTube videos to help you fool the grumpy photographer into thinking you’re not wearing too much makeup.

              3. Top makeup tips: Don’t use SPF because it gives your face a white cast when the camera flashes. Cover blemishes well and aim for a flawless but natural base. Concealer is your friend! For lips, stay away from those bold lip kits and go for a tinted balm or creamy lippie that enhances the natural color of your lips. Look up MLBB—my lips, but better. Fill in your eyebrows and dab some natural blush. The contouring may disappear under the poor lighting condition and general camera settings, but your eyebrows, lips, and cheeks will stand out.

              4. Google to see the passport photo requirements, because it may differ per agency. For example, some embassies allow eyeglasses, while others don’t. Most don’t allow contact lenses—not even the clear kind. Some allow white tops, while others prefer colored. Most don’t allow uniforms and accessories. Know their rules beforehand.

              5. Fix your hair beforehand, not when you’re about to be photographed. Your ears need to be seen, so tuck your hair. Pin your bangs and keep your hairstyle simple (No Arianna Grande ponytail, sorry!). No earrings or hair accessories.

              6. Bring your own reflector—if you dare. I’ve read stories of girls who got away with it, but I didn’t have the chutzpah to pull it off. Safer alternative: Wear a white collared top (only if they allow white), which can do a bit of light reflection to give your face a studio finish.

              7. Retouch! With fast hands, dab some light powder to get rid of the shine right before the camera click. Quickly check your face in the mirror before smizing for the camera. Do it fast enough so that the person who will take your photo doesn’t lose his patience (as there are hundreds of you that they have to go through daily).

              If you need to submit your own photo

              1. Rejoice! This means you’ll have a little more control and time to look good.

              2. If you have the money, spend a little more on a reputable photo studio. While those one-hour photo kiosks in the mall or streets are quick and affordable, they won’t do your face justice. Trust me, I’ve tried them all! This year, I skipped the budget photo kiosks and went to a professional photography studio in the mall. Because you are paying a hefty sum, they will not rush you. You may take your sweet time to fix your hair and retouch your makeup, and most of all, have more than two retakes. Reputable private photo studios have the same lighting used in modeling shoots. The result: My new visa photo finally looks great. It’s a travel investment. Hello, I will be using this photo for the next 10 years! Thank you, Great Image in Uptown Mall, BGC. No, this is not a sponsored post.

              How to look good for your passport photoNo time to find a photo studio? DIY!

              3. Don’t forget the makeup tips I mentioned above. Cisgender males who still believe in gender stereotypes, you know it’s completely okay to wear some concealer and BB cream for the photo.

              If you’re in the middle of traveling and you suddenly need a digital ID photo

              I’ve seen this happen to my backpacker friends. They’re in the middle of traveling in a foreign country. They’re also applying for another country’s program (ex. Workaway, short course, etc.) that requires them to submit a specific ID photo (ex. white background with collared top). The solution? DIY! Do your own makeup (see my tips above), wear the appropriate attire, and find a clean, plain wall in the color needed. Find good lighting, ask a friend to take your photo, or just use your camera with a tripod. Use the hi-res setting. Crop accordingly. There’s no need to print because they usually need you to submit the digital version online. Ta-da!

              Raise your hand if you look fabulous in your passport or visa photo. Share your tips in the comments section below.

              I’m never very keen on photos of myself. But for passport photos, you can multiply that by a factor of a thousand.

              How to look good for your passport photo

              With that white background, brutal flash and unsmiling face, I always look both washed out and dead-eyed – more serial killer mugshot which isn’t normally the effect I’m hoping for. Even my photogenic three-year-old looked drained.

              The old saying goes that if you look like your passport photo, you need the holiday. But it would be nice to have one which doesn’t make me (and immigration officials) flinch. When I posted my latest set on Facebook, everyone seemed to have a similar tale of woe. So after my posts on how to take great photos, I started looking for more tips on how to take a good passport photo.

              1. Pick your moment

              Passport photos are unforgiving enough anyway, so taking them when you’ve got a heavy cold, a bad hangover or after a sleepless night with a newborn is not ideal. If you can postpone it… do.

              2. Wear make-up

              That flash is instantly draining, so whether you normally bother putting on make-up or not, now is a day to try. Steer clear of anything too shiny (lip gloss or forehead) as it’ll look extra reflective, and use tinted moisturiser or more blusher/bronzer.

              You might feel like Barbara Cartland in real life, but it’ll look less dramatic in the end result. Neutral and natural is also better than regretting the blue eyeshadow/eyeliner flicks for the next 10 years. Guys, if concealer/tinted moisturiser gives you a better photo, I for one am not about to judge.

              How to look good for your passport photo

              Not this scary in real life. Honest.

              3. Think about your hair

              The rules say it has to be off your face – but if you have long hair, tucking it behind your ears is less severe than scraping it back, which can leave you looking almost bald in the end result. If you are bald, skip this step…

              4. Pick the right top

              There’s not much shoulder showing in the photo but the right or wrong top can make a surprising difference – one friend’s strappy summer vest left her looking naked.

              White shirts add to the ghostly finish or blend in to the background while prints can look odd, so simple block colours often work best. If all else fails, go for a top you love and which makes you look good. At least that’ll be a happy memory.

              5. Can you live with it?

              Every time you travel for the next 10 years (unless it’s so bad you’ll pay to update it early), that photo will be there. The quirky earrings. The striking make-up. The high fashion top. Will you still love it tomorrow (and in five years)?

              6. Smile with your eyes

              Not something I’ve ever been very successful at (see above) – but when you can’t smile with your mouth, it helps give your face some animation.

              7. Check the requirements

              Have you got the right background, is there anything covering your face, are your glasses off (or angled so they don’t reflect)? Because if not, you might just have to do it all again.

              Share your top tips on how to take a good passport photo in the comments…