Passport Photo in New Zealand – A Quick Guide

Are you a New Zealander and in need of a new passport photo? Perhaps you already sent one but it got rejected or you simply need a new one, because your appearance changed. Regardless of your motivations, in this blog post, we will tell you everything you need to know about passport photos in New Zealand. 

We’ll cover the requirements, what you can and cannot do, the costs of the passport photo and many other topics that will prove useful. Armed with this knowledge, nothing will stand between you and valid New Zealand passport photos.


NZ passport photo specifications: introduction

Let’s start from the basics. Every country has their own passport photo regulations and the passport services guard these rules like it’s their sacred duty. New Zealand is no different, and the country’s citizens, colloquially called “Kiwis”, need to keep those regulations in mind when applying for a passport. 

Hence, the official directives are far from optional, and should you send a file that does not meet guidelines provided for NZ citizens, passport photos will be rejected and the process will stall. In that case, grab your reading glasses and find a comfortable place to sit, as we discuss how to take an NZ passport photo.

As a side note, be advised that there are online passport photo creators on the internet. With them on your side, you will be able to make sure all the regulations are followed.

The passport photo size in NZ

New Zealanders need to pay close attention to the size of their passport photos, especially if they’re used to other passports. Thing is, they are not square, unlike American passport photos, for example. That in itself is unusual, so keep that in mind if you wish to take the photo yourself. The official guidelines state that the exact size should be 35mm x 45mm. This is, however, only part one of our detailed preparation for a photo acceptable by the passport office. 

Step two involves our head on the photo and how big it is. According to the NZ government websites, the length of your full head, from the bottom of your chin to the top, should stay within 32mm and 36mm. It should cover roughly 80% of the passport photo.

Additionally, be advised that the space between the top of your head and the edge of the photo should stay within 3mm and 5mm.

On the other hand, we need to talk about the digital size of our image. The New Zealand government made sure you can send your photo through the internet, which is very convenient. We just need to be extra careful. 

The digital size that’s acceptable ranges from 900×1200 at minimum and 4500×6000 at maximum.

The applicants must remember that our digital photos have to “weigh” at least 500KB and not more than 10MB.

Last but not least, remember that when submitting any passport photo to the passport services. you are required to send two copies

Also, there are two formats allowed: .jpg & .jpeg

Luckily, should you seek the assistance of photo services, every professional photographer worth their salt will know exactly how to snap a perfect and valid photo. Their photo editing software should ensure the final product is satisfactory. If, however, you wish to attempt to take a photo yourself, now you’re familiar with all the important numbers.

The age of the passport photo in NZ

The purpose of the passport photo is to leave security services with no doubt when checking your passport. The image should present a relatively current version of your appearance. The bottom line is this: Your new passport photo needs to be 6 months old at most. If you’ve got a gorgeous, existing photo at hand but it’s older, unfortunately, that won’t do. In that case, you’ll have to take a new one or pick another picture that shows your current appearance. In fact, this rule is even more important when you consider different ways how our face can change due to a variety of reasons. 

If something happened that left a visible scar on your cheek, the passport photo has to include that alteration. Perhaps you needed surgery for medical reasons and this has had its effect on your face? This needs to be included as well, so bear that in mind. In short, all of your current features need to be present and clearly visible.

Your face on the NZ passport photo

Passport photo rules are easy to follow in that regard. The crucial part is that you need to be facing the camera, your eyes opened and glued to the camera and everything in the photo should be well-lit. Keep your eyes straight and you’ll be okay. Of course, your eyes need to be opened, so if you find out you closed them when a picture is taken, try again. It is a fairly natural reaction and there’s no shame in that, so keep trying until you manage to resist the urge. Once you see a good photo, with eyes opened and staring directly at the camera, you know you’ve succeeded.

Smiling is okay, but don’t overdo it. Usually, it is advised to have a neutral expression, but a slight smile will be accepted. We’re talking very subtle.

Keep in mind that unless you wear prescription glasses, you should take them off for the photoshoot. We’re talking about regular ones, not sunglasses, as those would get the photo rejected the second a passport office clerk sees it. If you need glasses for medical purposes, bring a document confirming it and you’ll be fine. 

If you wear a beard, there is no need to shave it. You can leave it be and the photo will still come out valid.

In general, in a passport photo, hair can usually stay as it is. It should not cover any crucial features, and sometimes you will be asked to do something about the fringe if it is too long.

When it comes to makeup, it is not prohibited, but the situation is similar to smiling, you must ensure you do not overdo it. Natural matte bronze colors are okay for your lipstick or eyeliner, for instance. The same goes for blushes.

Your attire on the NZ passport photo

Let’s start from the top. Generally, the headgear of all kinds is off the table. No headphones, no hats or baseball caps, the rules are clear. There are, however, exceptions, since sometimes your headgear means something more. If you wear headgear for religious or medical purposes, you can leave it on and the photo’s validity will remain the same. What’s more, should you bring a signed statement from a medical practitioner, stating that you need a certain head covering, it can stay.

Jewelry is not prohibited, but it cannot hide any features. If you really wish to wear them, you should consider small pieces.

The rest of the attire should remain casual, with a neckline that’s not too revealing. In fact, you should consider a buttoned-up shirt. Bear in mind, also, that the color of your top should be non-white, so as to create contrast with the background.

Background on the NZ passport photo

In general, the background on a passport picture should be plain white. Some countries allow other colors similar to white, but in New Zealand, you have to stick to only one correct hue. If you’re attempting a photo at home, make sure there are no other shadows in the background. If you’re taking advantage of photo services, a professional photographer will surely have a dedicated setting for passport photos and should have you covered.

Remember, no playing with shadows to accentuate that magnificent jawline of yours. Another time, perhaps.

You might also be interested in:

Can I Get a Passport Photo Online?

Can You Take Your Own Passport Photo?

What Color Shouldn’t You Wear for a Passport Photo?

Passport photos requirements for children in NZ

Children and infants have to follow basic rules just like everybody else. A valid, child passport photo for a New Zealand citizen has to include:

  • a natural expression
  • eyes opened, looking straight at the camera
  • the size of 35mm x 45mm and 500KB-10MB
  • casual, non-white attire
  • no glasses, unless a child needs them
  • no headgear or glasses without confirmation of either religious or medical reasons for them

In short, if you have a good grasp of New Zealand passport photo requirements, you will know how to deal with it. A baby photo for a passport will pose no problem for a learned photographer such as yourself, after all.

Bear in mind, that should you go use passport services at a post retail outlet, a standard fee is $20. 

As a side note, when attempting a photo of an infant, it is advised to put an infant on its back on a white sheet. In that situation, all that’s left is to get the child’s attention and snap the picture when they look at the camera with their eyes wide open.

Checking your NZ passport photo online

If you wish to check if the photo you have is eligible to send, you’re in luck, because there are services that can assist you. New Zealand offers its citizens an online application that can check if a photo you’ve chosen is acceptable. NZ passport photo software works in such a way that once you upload the image, the app needs a moment to scan the picture and eventually it will pass judgment. 

Be aware that should an error message occur, that most likely means the photo does not follow every requirement and will need to be re-shot. If no error is found, the photo you’ve submitted will be deemed correct, so you go ahead and send it to get the passport application rolling. As long as an improved, valid passport photo is not sent, the process will stall, mind you.

New Zealand passport photo guidelines

If you had any doubts about how to take a passport photo in NZ, now you should be ready to snap a good one. As you can see, there’s no shortage of guidelines you must follow in order for the passport office to accept the photo you sent. Pay attention to detail, don’t experiment with clothes, jewelry or makeup, and everything will turn out fine. Also, remember there’s an app for a passport photo available to fix our digital photos. With it by your side and armed with this newly acquired knowledge, you should be able to easily send a valid passport photo.


How to take a photo for a New Zealand passport?

Make sure you follow all the official guidelines, which clearly state what to do to avoid any mistakes when applying for a passport or a passport renewal. Be advised that minors have to follow the exact same rules.

What size should a New Zealand passport photo be?

New Zealand passport photos should be in a rectangular shape, 35mm x 45mm. Also bear in mind that the digital copy, which you should send in the number of two, must weigh between 500KB and 10MB.

Can you take your own passport photo in New Zealand?

Yes, you can do the photo yourself, but you must prepare a good setting for the photo to comply with every requirement issued by the government of New Zealand. Remember about all the other rules as well, and you’ll be fine. Especially, pay attention to headgear. If you wear it for religious or medical reasons.

Can you smile on a New Zealand passport photo?

Yes, smiling is okay, as long as you keep the smile subtle. Technically, a natural expression is advised, but a slight sign of happiness will not get the photo rejected.

How much does a New Zealand passport photo cost?

Currently, a standard fee for a passport photo, available at a post retail outlet is $20. Prices in other photo services will not vary much from that fee.

Can I check my NZ passport photo online?

Yes, you can check the photo on the internet before submitting it to the passport office. Simply take the photo, find the software on a New Zealand government website and upload it. The app will determine if the photo is valid or if you need another one.

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