A Guide on Passport Photo Hair Rules

Are you about to apply for a passport and you need a new U.S. passport photo as well? If so, then you’re probably wondering about the American passport hair rules and what exactly you should do with your hairstyle for the upcoming photo shoot.

We’re about to tell you everything you need to know about the requirements surrounding hair in passport photos. Is hair color relevant, what kind of hairstyle will be accepted while others won’t or is fringe fair game? – every question will find its answer.

A smiling woman with long hair and a U.S. passport.

Passport picture & passport hair rules: essentials

We all want to look the part in your perfect passport photo, showing off that gorgeous hairstyle we’ve groomed for long years. The way one styles their hair, however, is a key feature in a passport photo and you should take a minute and consider how it may look when you’re taking a picture for passport purposes.

It is widely recommended not to experiment with your image in such an important paper, especially since it is supposed to be a perfect identity confirmation document. That is why you need to be careful when styling your hair for the photo shoot and consider U.S. passport hair rules that need following.

The bottom line is that, in truth, how you style your hair in those photos is ultimately up to you and in the vast majority of cases you’ll be fine just as you are. Different hair colors or fanciful cuts, for example, which we will discuss later in the blog post, are in most cases fair game.

You need to be careful, however, because passport photos still may require you to alter your appearance a bit. After all, the most significant rule governing passport photos is that your entire face should be visible from the bottom of the chin to the top of your head. Hence, why sometimes fringes need to be sorted so your eyes or eyebrows are all on display on the travel document.

You can rest easy if you remember that the official passport photo requirements aren’t too restrictive when it comes to the way you like to style your hair. Show all your facial features in all their glory and you will certainly like the final product.

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Passport photo hair requirements

You might be familiar with the process of passport application and how it demands a certain level of attention to detail to ensure everything goes as planned. The passport photo needs to have the correct measurements, for instance, but passport hair rules are just as important.

Your hair needs just as much attention as every other facial feature, which means that you need to make sure not to make easy mistakes and know how to style hair for passport photos. If you are thorough and do your research, you will certainly manage to get everything right. It’s a good thing that passport photo hair rules aren’t numerous but they still are obligatory and key if you want your passport picture to pass muster. In that case, be sure to follow them as much as you follow others like neutral facial expression, head-centered or off white background.

  • Your full face needs to be visible – You might need to comb your hair so it doesn’t cover any important features. Splitting the fringe may be required, for example, or if you’re sporting a frizzy or a tousled hairstyle you might need to flatten the hairstyle as well. 
  • Hair accessories are a no-go – you’re supposed to show your natural self, although hair bands are allowed. Other items you might use, like wearing hair clips, should be avoided.

Please note, however, that some cultures or religions around the world demand certain head coverings and other traditional religious attire that effectively hide your hair in the passport photos. Sometimes you also need to wear a head covering for medical purposes, but there is no reason to worry. According to hair rules for a passport photo, your hair needn’t show if you have a signed statement or a note confirming that you need to, for instance, wear religious headgear.

It is also the same case when your hair is covered for medical reasons. Just remember about a signed note as proof.

As a useful side note, you should also keep in mind that you do not need to make your ears visible and tuck your hair behind them. It certainly won’t be considered an error, though. Just remember that it is a myth so if you’re wearing longer hair, feel free to let it loose and hide your ears. You’ll be fine.

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How to style hair for a passport photo?

You might still be wondering if there are any hairstyles that are favored or maybe some you might even wish to avoid. We have said, after all, that in most cases you’ll be free to choose whatever hairstyle you want and the photo will still be compliant with passport hair rules..

What we meant relates directly to passport requirements, meaning you would do well to even memorize some of them, but to make things easier for you, here’s a more in-depth look at how to wear your hair for a passport photo.

Pixie cuts and other short hairstyles like buzz cuts will definitely work. As long as they offer the camera a good look at your whole face, you’ll be alright. You just need to remember that should you wish to grow a longer fringe, you will need to keep it away from your eyes.

Bob cuts are generally considered perfectly acceptable too and as long as you make sure the biometrics of your face are well exposed.

You can style your hair into a bun in the passport photo, which in turn can prove very useful, especially if you have long hair and need to take care of your long bangs for the passport picture. You might also brush the hair behind your shoulders so your hair doesn’t cover your attire.

Ponytails are acceptable as well and a popular choice for people who like to let their hair grow long. A ponytail hairstyle will make sure your face is well exposed and ready for a passport photo.

Acceptable hair colors in passport photos

When it comes to colors, you can breathe a sigh of relief because you’re free to choose whichever hue you like. If the photo meets all the other passport photo requirements, you’re all set.

Be advised that if you have changed your hair color you are not required to get a new passport and take your passport photo again. Changing one’s hair color is perfectly fine and requires no update as it is not considered a significant change.

Changing hairstyles for passport photos

Be advised, however, that for your new passport photo to pass muster you need to have a good eye for detail and be ready to alter the way you style your hair. 

To give you a perfect example, you will need to do something with your hairstyle if it is so thick and big that it covers the background. You should try tying it with a hairband or try to brush it in such a way that it fits in the passport photo frame. 

Be ready for such measures especially if you wish to take the passport photo yourself and you’re sporting a massive mohawk or any other hairstyle that can be considered quite large. A big afro would serve as a perfect example.

How to wear your hair? – Passport hair rules summary

The good news is that you can take your passport photo and have someone else take it without thinking too long about your hairstyle. In the vast majority of cases, the only matter that needs to be addressed are the bangs, which you should brush to the side, for example. In more extreme circumstances you might have to flatten the hair so it doesn’t cover the background of the photo

Luckily, you can choose whichever hair color you fancy for the U.S. passport book and no passport photo rules will stand in your way.

How to wear your hair for a passport photo? – FAQ

Below, is some additional information regarding hair rules for a passport photo.

Can your hair be in a ponytail for passport pictures?

The answer is yes, a ponytail is one of the hairstyles that will make the picture pass muster. You can go and get that new photo of yours. Remember about all the other requirements and submit the photo.

Can you wear your hair down for a U.S. passport?

You can let your hair down as long as they don’t hide any important facial features. Your eyes and eyebrows need to be on full display, while your ears can stay hidden under the hair.

Can you have dyed hair in a passport photo?

Yes, you can take a perfect passport photo even with dyed hair. You just need to make sure to follow other passport photo requirements like a natural smile or no smile at all, frontal view, both eyes open and many others.

Do you have to have your hair behind your ears for passport photos?

You actually do not need to tuck your hair behind your ears. You might as well let your hair hide your ears completely and submit the image.

Do I need a new passport if I cut my hair?

Your current passport can stay even if you’ve cut your hair. Cutting them is not considered a significant change and thus requires no passport renewal to submit.

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