What To Wear In A Passport Photo? A Complete Guide

One would think that the way we submit our applications for various purposes, such as applying for passports, would change as the technological age increasingly permeates every aspect of our lives. But, although the process itself has improved much from the times of our grandparents, the one thing that hasn’t changed at all is the requirement of a “passport photo.”

Please consider your clothing choices before having your picture taken for a passport, in addition to your hair and makeup. Continue reading to find out what to wear—and what not to wear—for a passport photo that will look good both now and ten years from now when your passport is stuffed with stamps from all over the world.

Does What You Wear Matter In Passport Photos?

A customs official only has access to your passport photos when you enter a new country to determine your identity. Nowhere else in the world will your home country’s identification cards be accepted. The only acceptable international identification document is a passport. You can legally be deported back to your home country right from the airport if the photo on this passport is not acceptable.

As a result, it is safe to say that you must ensure you wear the appropriate clothing and accessories in your passport photo in order to avoid any misunderstandings with the airport authorities and enjoy a hassle-free trip. Additionally, you should be cautious not to wear accessories or other items that might cause you problems.

U.S. Passport Photo Requirements

The U.S. requires that passport photos be taken in color against a plain white or off-white background. State Department.

Your face must be clearly visible in the photo without any added filters. There should be no filters used in passport photos. Additionally, taking selfies is not permitted. The picture must be taken by someone else, or you may use a tripod.

Photos must have a high resolution and not be pixelated, grainy, or blurry. The image must be printed on matte or glossy photo-quality paper and cannot be altered digitally; this includes removing red eyes or blemishes. Also prohibited are creases, smudges, and holes in the image.

Your head in the photo must be between 1 and 1 3/8 inches (or 25 to 35 mm) in height from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head, and all photos must be 2 x 2 inches (or 51 x 51 mm).

What To Wear In A Passport Photo?

In your passport photo, clothing is the most crucial thing to look out for. In essence, only your face and possibly a portion of your neck will be visible, not your entire body. You must be able to see your entire jawline and your ears.

However, it would be awkward for a foreign employer to take a Xerox copy of your passport, along with your picture, while you are dressed in something that is inappropriate for an office file. It is not prohibited to wear more casual household items, so long as they are not inappropriate for an office setting.

what to wear in passport photos

So it would be best for you to dress in something more formal. It would also be best if you wore a darker color so that your clothing wouldn’t blend in with the background since a passport photo is taken against a white or off-white background.

If the final image doesn’t show your face is covered, you can also wear jewelry. It is acceptable to wear delicate necklaces, stud earrings, and small earrings. Make sure your jewelry isn’t too over the top, distracting, or covering your face in the photo.

Any “headgear” isn’t acceptable. To hold your hair together, you can only use bobby pins or similar items. Any hairstyle is acceptable, but it is advised that you avoid covering your ears or any other facial features.

Your face cannot be completely covered, so makeup must also be light and straightforward. A red flag that could cause your application to be rejected is wearing excessive makeup. It would be sufficient to have a clear face that only needed minor touch-ups. Additionally, never ever use makeup or digital tools to remove moles from your face. This will lead to identity issues in the future

What Not To Wear In A Passport Photo?

Although there aren’t many restrictions on what you can wear and pretty much anything goes, there are some things that you must never wear on your head. Such items include:


No glasses are permitted in passport photos in the United States as of 2016, even if a flash camera is not being used. If you still have a photo of yourself wearing glasses, that is acceptable, but when you renew, you must take a photo without them.

You must submit a written note from your doctor along with your application if you are unable to remove your glasses due to health reasons.

Uniforms Or Costumes

You shouldn’t wear provocative clothing in your passport photo. The State Department wants your photo to be “taken in clothing normally worn on a daily basis.” Camouflage clothing, uniform-like attire, or any other similar items are not permitted.

Additionally, you cannot cover your head or wear a hat in your photo.

If you wear a hat or head covering for religious reasons, you need to submit a signed statement that “verifies that the hat or head covering in your photo is part of traditional religious attire worn continuously in public,” according to the website of the State Department.

And if you wear a hat or head covering for medical reasons, you need to submit a signed doctor’s statement “verifying the hat or head covering in your photo is used daily for medical purposes.”

Hats And Headgear

Except for religious headgear worn daily, such as a headscarf or yarmulke, hats are not permitted in passport photos. If you choose to wear religious headgear, you must make sure that it does not completely enclose your face. For instance, you are permitted to wear a hijab scarf but not a niqab that completely encloses your face. A letter stating that you wear the item every day for religious reasons must also be submitted.

what to wear in passport photos

Hair That Covers Your Face

Make sure your entire face is visible when you style your hair for your passport photo session. Do not let your hair fall over your face or cover your eyes. If you have very long bangs that cover your eyebrows, you should bobby-pin them back. Although it’s preferable, it won’t prevent your photo from being accepted if your ears are visible.

Headbands And Large Hair Accessories

Wearing headbands or other clunky hair accessories will prevent you from getting a clear passport photo. Too many photos of applicants with headbands on have been disqualified. The cute baby headbands that so many parents like to put on their infant daughters also fall under this rule.

You should also avoid any large hair clips, bows, “scrunchies” or ribbons. Choose bobby pins or delicate ponytail holders if you need to pull your hair back.

No Posing

For Instagram, reserve the sensual or absurd poses. According to the State Department, in passport photos, you have to have “a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open.” There were no pouts, big goofy grins, or silly faces.

You must also be directly facing the camera and have your entire face visible in your photo. Getting a passport photo for a baby or young child is more difficult than it seems. According to the State Department, there is more latitude for baby passport photos.

Final Thoughts

A passport photo is just as crucial as any other piece of information you provide when applying for a passport. It is the first thing someone notices and checks out about you, even before your name. Pick relatively neutral, classic looks for your hair, makeup, and clothing. Otherwise, long before it expires, your passport might begin to look worn out.

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