Can You Wear Glasses in a Passport Photo?

When applying for a passport in the United States, you will be requested to submit a photo that complies with all official regulations. These regulations range from the size of the picture to the proper facial expression, correct background, and appropriate clothing. Nevertheless, one of the most commonly asked questions concerning the photo requirements is: can you wear glasses in a passport photo?

A closeup of a red-haired girl wearing optical glasses and a U.S. passport photo. Can you wear glasses in a passport photo?

In this article, we answer the aforementioned question and explain why you should take your glasses off when creating a picture for your passport.

Glasses in a passport photo

According to the U.S. Department of State, in 2015 alone, more than 200,000 passport applications were delayed or denied because of the passport picture. The most common reason why photos were considered non-compliant was that candidates wore glasses, which made it impossible to identify applicants’ faces.

This led to the implementation of the new rule, which now requires U.S. citizens to remove any kind of glasses when taking a picture for official documents.

If you want to learn more about passport photo specifications, check our blog post on Passport Photo Requirements

Now, let’s explore in more detail why glasses are not allowed in U.S. passport photos.

Can you wear regular glasses in a U.S. passport photo?

It is a long-established rule that your eyes must be detectable in a biometric photo; therefore, sunglasses and regular glasses with tinted lenses have never been allowed in U.S. passport photos. 

However, since 2016, the State Department has decided to implement a new “No Eyeglasses Policy,” which prohibits people from wearing any kind of glasses in their passport pictures. The reason for this decision is rooted in the vast number of rejected passport photos over the years because people wore glasses, which obstructed their eyes and made it difficult for the face recognition software to recognize their faces. 

Even if your glasses have completely clear lenses, the camera flash can generate glare on your lenses that may hide your eyes. As a result of these issues with eyewear, hundreds of thousands of passport applications have been delayed or denied. Therefore, before you snap your perfect passport picture, it is important to remove your regular or sun glasses.

Can you wear prescription glasses for a passport photo?

Wearing prescription glasses in a U.S. passport photo is allowed if you have a medical condition that requires you to keep your glasses on all the time. Also, you will be allowed to take your picture with glasses on if you have had recent eye surgery and eyeglasses are necessary to protect your eyes. In such cases, you must provide a signed note from your doctor, which must be submitted together with other required documents. 

Nevertheless, even if you are allowed to take a photo with your glasses on, bear in mind that your eyes must be visible. The frames must not cast shadows on your face or cover your eyes, meaning that they cannot be thick and in dark or fancy colors. Furthermore, the lenses should not create any kind of reflection that might blur the image or obscure your eyes. 

If your eyes or face are not apparent, your photo will be rejected, and you will be requested to enclose a new photo. However, this will further delay your passport application as it will be put on hold until you submit another photo.   

To make sure your passport picture gets accepted, you may consider removing your glasses even if you can provide a signed statement from your doctor that allows you to keep them on.

Can a child wear glasses in a passport photo?

Children are not exempt from passport photo regulations, meaning that the same requirements apply to them as they do to adults. If your child wears glasses, you will have to remove them to take a picture for the official document. In fact, any accessories that might cover your child’s face should be removed.

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Can you wear glasses in a passport photo – FAQ

Below you can find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions with regard to wearing glasses in passport photos.

Can you wear glasses in a U.S. passport photo?

Wearing glasses in a U.S. passport photo has been prohibited since 2016; therefore, individuals cannot wear eyeglasses in passport photos. There are some exemptions if a medical reason permits the applicant to wear them.

Do you have to take your glasses off for a passport photo?

Yes, you have to take your glasses off for a passport picture, even if you wear glasses with clear lenses. However, you are allowed to keep them on for medical reasons.

Can you wear prescription glasses in passport photos?

You can keep your glasses on in rare cases, for example, if you have a signed doctor’s statement that you must wear glasses all the time. However, even if you have medically-documented proof, we recommend removing glasses if possible. 

Why are glasses not allowed in passport photos?

Passport services decided to prohibit the use of glasses in passport photos after the State Department rejected many images as the applicant’s face was not clearly visible. The idea behind this decision is to influence fewer passport application delays.

Passport photo glasses on or off – closing thoughts

For some of us, eyeglasses are an indispensable part of our daily lives, but when it comes to official passport photos, wearing them can lead to some complications such as passport delays or even passport denials. Therefore, it is important to take the glasses off no matter if you take your photo at a passport photo center or at home.

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