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Passports

Photo Requirements for U.S. Passports & Visas

American citizens should bring two identical photos when they apply for a U.S. passport.  The following minimum requirements must be met or your application will not be processed. Please see the paragraphs below for more details.

  1. The photographs must not be older than six months
  2. The photographs must measure 2x2" (5x5 cm) 
  3. The photographs of the applicant's head must be between 1" to 1 3/8" (2.5 to 3.5 cm) when measured vertically
  4. The photographs must have a white background
  5. Must face the camera directly, with both ears visible


The photograph of each passport or visa applicant must be an unmounted full face photo, taken within the past six months. A "full face" photo is one in which the applicant is facing the camera directly. The applicant should not be looking down or to either side, and the face should cover about 50% of the area of the photo. Although variations in hair styles and in head coverings (see discussion below) make it difficult to rigorously define the term "face," in general, the head of the applicant, including both face and hair, should be shown from crown of the head to tip of chin on top and bottom and from hair line side-to-side. It is preferable that ears be exposed. The key requirement is that the photograph clearly identifies the applicant.

The photograph should measure 2" square (roughly 50 mm square) with the head centered in the frame. The head (measured from the top of the hair to the bottom of the chin) should measure between 1 to 1 3/8" (25 to 35 mm) with the eye level between 1 1/8 to 1 3/8" (28 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the photo. Photos may be either in color or black and white and must be taken against a white background. Photos should be printed without borders. Photos should be stapled or glued to Form DS-82 or DS-11 (application for U.S. passport). If the photograph is stapled, the staples should be placed as far away as possible from the applicant's face. Photos taken in front of busy, patterned, or dark backgrounds will not be accepted.

Head coverings and hats are only acceptable due to religious beliefs, and even then, may not obscure any portion of the face of the applicant. Sunglasses or other accessories detracting from the face as defined above are not acceptable unless required for medical reasons (an eye patch, for example). A photograph depicting a person wearing a traditional facemask or veil that does not permit adequate identification is not acceptable. Photos of military, airline or other personnel wearing hats are not acceptable. Photographs of applicants wearing tribal, national costume or other headgear not specifically religious in nature are not acceptable. 

More information on photographs can be found at http://travel.state.gov/pdf/Photo-Quality-Requirements.pdf (PDF 196 Kb).

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