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Passport Photographs

Acquiring and Utilizing a US Passport Photo

It is commonly understood that before departing abroad, every US citizen must acquire a passport, complete with necessary identification information as well as a passport photo. The acquisition of a passport photo is often treated as a more complicated affair than it actually is to acquire and utilize a passport photo. As the acceptance or rejection process is directed solely by the discretion of the specific passport agency, it is important to recognize the necessity behind this portion of the application.

The US State Department, the institution within the US Federal Government responsible for issuing and maintaining compliance with respect to foreign visas and passports, also states that they "recommend the use of a professional passport photo service" to guarantee that the photo "meets all requirements." This most often can be completed inside your local municipal building, at a passport agency. Many chain stores offer passport photo services as well. When applying for a passport it is only necessary to provide one color photo for acceptance. However the photo has a number of stipulations that are standardized not only to simplify the application process but also in order to promote fluid, secure transport and international travel. Generally, the submitted passport photo should be printed upon quality paper, 2 x 2 inches (or 51 x 51mm) in size. This is an important facet of the application process as photo size is imperative to provide in order to produce a quality, distinct photo. And, while the size is of great importance the posturing and photograph of the individual also require potential modifications to meet requirements for acceptance.

Passport photos should be a simple photo picturing the individual facing the lens, but specifically from very the bottom of the chin to just above the top of the head. "Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head." Acquiring and submitting an acceptable passport photo should also display a photo recently taken (within the last six months), to reflect contemporary features. It is also important that the photo is taken against a plain white or off-white background. One should utilize a neutral expression for the passport photo application, keeping both eyes open. It is also recommended that one wear daily clothes for the passport photo, at the agency, as this will assist any authorities in the future attempting to identify you or in the event that you and your passport may become separated. Avoid wearing uniforms, unless they are worn on a regular basis (religious items). No hats or head coverings can be worn either, again, unless for religious reasons. One's full face must be in display for the passport photo to be considered for acceptance. Normally worn prescription glasses or hearing aids are acceptable in passport photos, however non prescription glasses or tinted glasses are not acceptable attire. Finally, hand held, self photos of oneself are also not acceptable.