Do Your Ears Have to Show in a Passport Photo? – All The Details

Are you about to take a new photo for a passport, but you’re unsure if you remember all the passport photo requirements? Can you put your hair over the ears or do your ears have to show in a passport photo?

We will answer all the questions you might have about passport photos and whether you need to show every feature including your ears. You will be ready to take the new photo and manage your hair accordingly to either show or not show your ears depending on the passport photo rules.

An ear with hair tucked behind it, a U.S. passport and a digital camera

Your ears on a passport photo – essentials

As you may have already known, the primary and most significant rule of a passport photo is to show a person’s all facial features. 

Consider biometric passports regulations such as the ones listed below to get the idea:

  • No exaggerated makeup
  • No head coverings (unless for medical reasons or religious purposes)
  • No glasses

Every mole, every scar, anything that makes your face unique and one-of-a-kind, has to be clearly seen on the passport. So many of you may ask yourselves “does this also apply to ears?” “do your ears have to show in a passport photo?”

On the surface the rule about your natural look may seem rather self-explanatory and easy to follow, but the question about the ears and whether your ears have to be visible in a passport photo is a good one. After all, when you read passport photo rules and requirements they do mention that the true image in the document should show your entire face and include every key identifying facial feature. Perhaps your ears are unique in some way that would make you think to make them visible?

The bottom line is this: your ears do not need to be visible in a U.S. passport book in 2023, as there is no regulation dictating they’re a key feature and thus need showing. Under no circumstances are you required to make your ears visible and no applicant is expected to tuck their hair behind their ears.

In that case, should you wear your hair long and usually let it hang loose and hide your ears, it can stay like that.

As a side note, you should remember that earrings, however, while they are allowed, shouldn’t be too large and hide some other features with their size.

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Your ears on a passport photo – minors

Passport regulations are mostly unchanging, with the vast majority always staying the same regardless of the age of someone wishing to take a new passport photograph. But just like very young minors have a luxury of not needing to open their eyes fully for the photo, the question about ears in their photos can certainly be seen as reasonable.

Please note, that younger U.S. citizens, including minors of all ages, have no obligation to ensure their ears are visible in their passport photo. They stick to the same requirements as any other American attempting to take the photo and needn’t worry about additional conditions for an acceptable photo.

Your ears in passport photos: headwear

As you may already know, headgear is, in general, considered by the passport acceptance facilities as a so-called “no-no”. They are prohibited, as your full head is supposed to be seen in the passport photo.

So if you’ve got yourself in a situation, in which you are required to wear a headgear for either medical or religious reasons and that headgear covers your ears, that part is fine. Your ears did not need to be seen on a passport photo before, and now that they’re hidden by or under a headgear, that won’t be an issue at the passport acceptance facility. If the photo meets every other requirement, the new passport photograph will make it to the facility and your application will get rolling.

Ears in passport photos – the verdict

As you study various passport photo requirements you will find out that, indeed, a passport photo does not need to feature visible ears. You can let your hair loose on the side and don’t worry if that part of your head will be the reason for a passport application refusal. There are more important other key identifying facial features.

In that case, you can start planning your new passport photo and concentrate on other aspects you must do right. 


Can your hair cover your ears in passport photos?

The answer is a resounding yes, you can let your hair down and let it cover your ears. There is no requirement telling passport applicants to cover their ears, they can just focus on a plain white background, neutral facial expression, head centered in the photo and other equally important rules.

Do you have to show your ears in a passport photo in 2023?

Just like your ears were not required to be seen in the past, in a modern passport photo ears do not need to be seen as well. The rules governing passport pictures have remained largely unchanged, so you’re good, nothing changed in 2023.
Just stare at the camera directly, follow every other requirement like a valid passport size photo and you’ll have a good time at the passport agency. Your photo will pass muster and the passport application will go through.

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