What Are The Rules For Passport Photos?

a passport and a travel bag in the background, two American passports and a title: “What are the rules for passport photos?”

What is a passport?

A passport is an essential official document for traveling abroad. Everyone needs to hold a valid passport to go abroad regardless of age, gender, or nationality. If you have plans to live, work, study, or just travel abroad, first things first, you need to hold a valid passport which should also be valid during your whole stay in the destination country. However, there might be some little exceptions when it comes to the necessity of holding a passport.  For instance, sometimes a valid passport is not enough to go abroad by itself or you can go abroad without having a passport to some limited destinations.

Let’s dig deeper! Each countries’ passport has different features in terms of passport power. Passport power is a term used to indicate what you can do only with your passport. So, what does passport power mean? According to the global passport ranking created by the Henley Passport Index, Japan has the world’s most powerful passport, meanwhile, Afghanistan has the least powerful one. This means that holders of Japanese passports can freely travel to 193 countries without a visa, their passport is just enough for them to travel abroad. On the other hand, the holders of Afghani passports can only travel to 26 countries without the need for a visa. Basically, this power shows what people can do only with their passports. 

There are also some situations when you do not need a passport to travel abroad.  For example, Turkish citizens need to hold neither a visa nor a passport to travel to Northern Cyprus. Besides, even if you don’t need a visa for your destination country in theory, you might need one if you want to stay longer. Most of the time, you can visit a visa-free country with your passport but usually, it is possible for up to 90 days. If you are planning to stay in your destination country for longer than 3 months, you may need a visa. So, what you can do with your passport varies depending on your nationality, your destination, and the length of your stay. It would be useful to consider these aspects before planning your trip.

Take your passport photos online

How to apply for a passport?

Nowadays, passport applications aren’t difficult procedures. However, this procedure changes depending on your country. Every country may ask for different types of documents and how the procedure works may also change. For instance, in some countries, you may apply online, on the other hand, in some countries the procedures only work when you visit the office in person. If you want to get a passport for the first time, you should check first what document you need to submit and how you can apply. Mostly, it works in two ways: you apply for a passport online or you get an appointment online, and you visit the office in person on the appointment date. As is mentioned above, everyone may need some different document for a passport application, however, there is one document that every single person needs, it is a passport photo. Since a passport is used for identification, a passport photo is one of the most significant documents that one needs for a passport.  Even if a passport photo is a common document for passport application. Unfortunately, its size and requirements also vary depending on the country. As an example, the USA requires passport photos in 2×2 inches, meanwhile, Turkey requires them in 50×60 mm. Photo size of official documents may also differ from document to document for a country. So, this situation makes the passport photo process a bit tiring. Luckily, Passport Photo Online is here to help you with that!

What are the passport photo size and requirements?

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, passport photo rules regarding photo size and passport photo requirements vary from one country to another. Even so, most of the aspects are common for all passport photos even if there might be some petty changes. Here, we will try to give an overall view of the general rules for passport photos.


It would be inaccurate to say that there is one specific size for all passport photos. Each country has its own size requirements. To learn which size you need for your passport, you can get help from Passport Photo Online. You can find information almost for each country and each document on the website.

Photo Color

Most countries such as Turkey, Italy, Morocco, Bulgaria, and Russia ask for colored photos for passport applications. So, we can say that passport photos must be in color most of the time.

Background Color

The preferable background for official document photos as well as passport photos is a white plain background. So, most countries accept passport photos taken with a white background. Even though it looks like a little detail, it is not. It is an important aspect for passport photos, even your passport application might get rejected because of this reason. So, we recommend you not to take this for granted. Thanks to Passport Photo Online, you don’t need to worry about the background color.


As you all know, passport photos are used for identification so the face is the most important part of the photos. In passport photos, your face must be fully visible without any shadows on your face or something that covers it. Your face must cover one-third of the photo. Also, your face must be seen from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin. Some countries may also require that the top of your shoulders should be seen in the photo. Your face shouldn’t be tilted to the sides, it should be straight and directed towards the camera.

Facial Expressions

As a passport photo is a part of an official document and used to identify, there should be a neutral facial expression. In passport photos, you should not smile or make any other facial expression. Your eyes should be open, on the other hand, your mouth should be closed. Do not show your teeth in the photo. There should be no red-eye. It sounds easy but most people struggle with this while taking passport photos. However, just a slight smile may be acceptable.


Lightning is also important for passport photos. While taking a passport photo, brightness shouldn’t be poor so that the face can be seen clearly. The source of light should be placed in front of you, not the sides. If you put the source of light to the side, there will be shadows on your face and this is something not acceptable in terms of passport photos. Even a slight shadow on your face may end up rejecting your application. 


Mostly, there is no specific rule about clothing but since this is a photo for an official document, it would be nice to wear something appropriate. We wouldn’t recommend wearing extravagant clothing. A passport photo must represent you naturally so the basics are the best. We also advise you not to wear white clothes because you need to stand out from the background.


Most of the countries require passport photos without accessories such as glasses, sunglasses, hats, earrings, piercings, or headphones. However, sometimes glasses that you are wearing for medical purposes are acceptable.

Head Coverings

We already know that wearing hats in passport photos is not acceptable, however, wearing a head covering for religious purposes is allowed in passport photos. Still, the passport photo might get rejected unless the face is visible from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in some countries like Bulgaria. In Bulgarian passport photos, it is not allowed to wear head coverings even if it is for religious purposes so that you have to take them off.


Passport photos should represent your natural self so that it is recommended not to wear makeup at all.  However, it is also okay to wear natural makeup.

Baby Passport Photos

Just like every other person, babies and children also need passport photos but it might be hard to control them. While taking babies or children’s passport photos, be sure that they are not covering their faces and not smiling or crying. There should be no one in the photo except them.

Up-to-date Passport Photos

As its title signifies, the passport photos must be up-to-date. The most important object of the passport photos is to identify the people so the passport photo should reflect their current appearances. If you were thinking about using an old photo, you should change your mind right now. Generally, countries ask for passport photos taken at least within the last 6 months.

These are the most common requirements for passport photos. As it is mentioned a few times so far, these requirements may vary from one country to another. So, we always advise you to check which requirements your country asks for. The most reliable sources are always the official government websites, but, other than that you can Passport Photo Online to learn about the requirements for your documents. Moreover, if you want to take your own passport photo with your smartphone and without leaving your home, you are more than welcome to use Passport Photo Online. It helps you get the proper passport photo at home in seconds and for a reasonable price! It will guide you through the whole process step by step. When your photo is ready, you can get digital copies and print them wherever you prefer or order the printout from the website. Passport Photo Online even guarantees that your photos will be accepted by authorities, if not you will get your money back!

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