Can you spassmile in a passport photo?

By Dominika

March 15, 2023

Can You Smile In a Passport Photo?

Are you about to take a trip abroad and need to apply for a passport? If you have never done this before, it might seem like an overwhelming task, but don’t worry – there’s no need to be intimidated! Taking a good passport photo is much simpler than most people think.

Today we will walk through everything you need to know so that when it comes time for your big adventure, getting the perfect photo won’t stand in your way. Read on if you’re ready to master the art of capturing the ideal image for your travel documents!

Can you smile in a passport photo?

One of the questions many people have while thinking about the perfect passport photo is whether or not they can smile in the official picture. The truth is that you can smile in a passport photo, it is not forbidden. However, both your eyes must be open and your mouth closed.

A short answer to the question posed by many travelers would be that a soft, natural smile should not be a problem in accepting a passport photo. But you must remember that you are not allowed to submit a photo where you are showing teeth. What is more, do not forget that you need to have your eyes open and keep neutral expressions.

What are the rules for taking an acceptable passport photo?

The requirements describing acceptable passport photos were established by the international organization ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization). ICAO was mandated by the UN in order to set passport standards and specifications for various travel documents and to control movement on the national borders of countries worldwide.

Passport photos requirements

  • correct size, 2 x 2 inches in print size
  • in color, black and white photos are not accepted
  • taken within the last 6 months, matching the current appearance
  • full face, front view, neutral facial expression or a natural smile
  • plain white or off-white background with no distracting patterns
  • image with no digital alterations, the only exception is the red-eye correction
  • natural light without any blurring or coloring filters
  • no objects that cast shadows
  • no glasses (unless you have a signed statement from the doctor)
  • no head covering (unless it is religious attire worn daily)

Moreover, if you normally wear a hearing device, wig, or similar articles, they should be worn for your passport photo.

Each person that has permanent tattoos (including face and neck tattoos) may submit an application for a passport. If you are planning to have a new tattoo before your journey abroad, you should wait to take the photo until the appointment so that your passport photo is recent and valid.

What are the requirements for children passport photos

Requirements concerning photos for children passports differ significantly from the standard pictures. Although the background still has to be white and free of any patterns, children under six do not have to look directly at the camera or have a neutral facial expression.

What is more, babies under one are not required to have their eyes open. They may be lying on plain-colored sheets, and the photo should be taken from the above.

It is essential that, regardless of their age, the child is alone in the picture. They also cannot hold any toys in their hands or have pacifiers in their mouths.

How to take a passport photo?

If you plan to take a passport pic for your travel document, you may choose to either take it yourself from the comfort of your home or schedule an appointment with a professional photographer.

Regardless of the selected method of taking the picture, you must remember that every new passport document requires a new photo (even if your appearance has not changed).

Taking a photo yourself at home

If you do not have time to plan a visit to a professional photographer, it is possible to apply for a passport with a picture taken on your own. It would be best if someone helped you with the task so that the photo is clear and of acceptable quality. It should also meet all the necessary requirements.

Taking a photo by the professional

While taking biometric passport photos at a professional studio, you will pay more, but high-quality pictures should be accepted by immigration officers without any problem. Moreover, the photographer should be already familiar with the current requirements concerning passport photography. After a visit to the professional, you will also obtain an official ICAO certificate.

How to look good in a passport photo?

Once you decide to apply for the passport, the document will remain valid for the following ten years. For a permit of a validity period this long, every traveler would like to look the best. Below, you will find a few tips on how to make sure you look good in your passport photo.

Preparing for the passport photos

While preparing to have your passport photo taken, you must remember that it will be used in official documents. Therefore, it should look formal and professional.

  • Hair

An important factor to consider before taking a passport photo is your hair. If you’re planning a significant change in your hairstyle (such as a new hair color or a different haircut), you should wait and take the picture later on. This way, the validity of your photo will not be questioned.

  • Hat

You must remember that for the passport photo, you cannot wear any type of hat or headpiece. The only exception is when you already use a head covering on a daily basis for religious purposes. However, your face must remain visible.

  • Make-Up

It is not recommended to use heavy make-up while preparing yourself for the passport picture. You should look natural as chances are for the travel abroad you will not wear any make-up at all. It is a good idea to use matting powder to prevent your skin from shining or concealer to hide dark circles under your eyes.

  • Clothing

Although the passport photo will mainly present the applicant’s face, you should wear something more formal or in neutral tones. Do not wear anything too flashy or with a camouflage print. Additionally, you shouldn’t put on low-cut clothes as they may give the impression that you are naked in your picture. It is also recommended not to wear jewelry.

  • Glasses

In general, you shouldn’t wear glasses in your passport photos. Glasses may reflect the flash of the camera and distort facial features. However, in case you cannot remove them for medical purposes, it is essential to include a signed doctor’s statement in the passport application.

Selecting a pose for a passport photo

Before you take the passport photo, you can practice a few facial expressions – for the biometric photo, you should be looking at the camera directly, have a neutral expression on your face, and keep your eyes open. If necessary, take practice shots on your own.

When it is time for the actual pictures, sit up straight with good posture and let your full personality shine in the picture – the more confident and relaxed you look, the better it will come out. Avoid funny expressions and silly faces – a neutral facial expression with a soft smile works best for biometric photos.

It’s also important to stay still during the shot, as even slight movements will cause blurriness. For the passport application, you need a high-resolution photo.

Additional information notice

Although all the requirements concerning the acceptable format of the passport photo are very similar for many countries around the world, it is highly recommended to always check the specific national rules on the matter. You can do it on the official government website of the country where your document will be issued.

Most countries apply the rules introduced by the ICAO organization. However, double-checking the information will help you avoid lengthy passport application and processing.

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Dominika takes care of all professional content published on She simply loves creative work and writing texts has always been something she's been fond of. Nothing gives her more energy than working with people that match her vibe. In her free time, she enjoys good literature, vegan cuisine, and of course traveling βœˆοΈπŸ—ΊοΈπŸ˜Š

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