Passport Photo Face Guide

Passport on suitcase with a man with his hands on his face

When you’re going abroad, you need to get a passport. For that, you need to get a passport photo and immerse yourself in the many rules and regulations that entails. The UK Government even offers specific guidelines on how to position your face in the photo! Luckily, with it laid out in our handy passport photo face guide, it will seem easy. Read on to discover how to prepare your face for your next biometric photo so you can be sure of getting a good result every time.

Passport on suitcase with a man with his hands on his face

Passport Photo Face Rules

Passport photo face size and positioning

In the photo, you should make sure to keep your head facing directly towards the camera and do not tilt it in any direction. The image of your head should measure 29-34mm in length, from your chin to your crown, and be situated as close to the centre of the photo as possible.

Passport photo expression

When you take your passport photo, it is very important to put on the correct facial expression. If you smile or frown while taking this picture, it can shift the structure of your face, which will interfere with the biometric data in the photo. The Government guidelines, therefore, say you should keep a neutral expression while taking the picture. Save that smile for your next holiday!

Passport photo shadow on your face

When you come to take your picture, you need to make sure that there are no shadows cast on your face or in the background behind you. If possible, try to find a consistent light source, preferably natural light.

Passport photo facial hair

In general, passport authorities accept facial hair in passport pictures. Hair is not covered in the biometric chip in your passport, but you should make sure that if, for example, you have a fringe, it doesn’t cover your eyes.

Passport photo facial tattoos

The government guidelines state that they will accept facial tattoos in passport photos. However, if you have recently got a facial tattoo that significantly changes your appearance, it might be a good idea to renew your passport so that the tattoo can be registered in your picture.

Passport photo face piercings

In the government guidelines, it says that low-key piercings will be accepted in your passport photos, such as earrings, nose rings or lip rings. Unfortunately, if you have a large number of facial piercings, it may interfere with the biometric data in the photo, or even create harmful reflections in the photo, which could invalidate your application. You might therefore wish to take out as many of your piercings as you can before you sit down to take that picture.

Passport photo glasses

You should not wear glasses in your passport photo unless it’s medically essential. If you do have to wear glasses in your passport photo, you should take care to ensure the frames aren’t blocking your face, and that the lenses are not creating glare. It’s also important to make sure your glasses aren’t casting shadows on your face when you do this. You’re not allowed to wear tinted or sunglasses. 

Passport photo makeup rules

The passport authorities are willing to accept makeup in your passport pictures, however, you should take care to ensure the makeup you wear is relatively low-key and doesn’t have too much impact on your facial appearance, or there is a risk it will impact the validity of the picture.

Passport photo face/head coverings

You’re not allowed to wear any head or face coverings in your passport photo unless you are doing so for religious or medical reasons, e.g. a bandage. What’s important to remember here is that you still need to make sure your face can be seen clearly.

Two passports with two digital cameras

Digital photos for your passports

When you’ve finished checking up on all the rules, you’re ready to take your photos. Of course, now you have to find a photo booth, book a photographer, find time to do it… Or, you could save yourself a few hours and use Passport Photo Online’s photo tool to get your photo in minutes! Why would you not?

  • You can be flexible. You can use our service from anywhere, could be at home, in the park, on the beach even! Make it work around you.
  • You will always be satisfied with your picture. Using Passport Photo Online, you can upload as many photos as you want. You can take as much time as you need to carefully take the perfect photo, and you’ll only need to pay for your final shot.
  • You can save so much money! Passport Photo Online’s service can cost up to 53% less than high street photo booths, which is particularly helpful if you need to apply for a new passport for more than one person.
  • You can get your picture validated. The AI photo software and our human inspectors can assess your picture against the criteria set by the government and, if we think your photo is not quite ready, we’ll give you tips to get it passport-ready. 
  • You are guaranteed acceptance. If your passport application is denied because of the photo, we’ll give you back double what you paid. That’s a promise.

Summing up

There you have it! With our passport photo face guide, you’ll be passport-photo-ready in no time! You’ll notice that a lot of these rules tend to be about making sure they can still see your face. This is for the biometric data, so it’s really important to get this right. If you don’t, your passport application may be rejected, and you’ll have to start again. Still, once it’s done, it’s done, and you can go back to planning your next trip. 

FAQs

Can you wear piercings in a passport photo?

The Government will accept some piercings in a passport photo, for example, earrings, nose rings or lip rings. However, a large number of facial piercings may make it difficult for the photo to register your facial biometrics. Additionally, large piercings may cause unwanted reflections in the photo, which can render it invalid. It’s a good idea to remove as many of your piercings as you can before taking the photo.

Can you have a beard in your passport photo?

Facial hair is not an issue when taking your passport photo. The biometrics chip in your passport is mainly based on the way your face is built, so having a beard or moustache is fine. For more details, check out our guide to hair in your passport photo.

Can you smile in a passport photo?

No, the UK Government guidelines state that, when you take a passport photo, you need to maintain a neutral facial expression with your mouth closed. No grinning or frowning!

Can you wear glasses in a passport photo?

You can’t wear glasses in your passport photo unless you need them for medical reasons. If you need to wear glasses in your photo, you need to make sure that there is no glare or shadowing in the picture from where they sit on your face, and that the frames are not covering your eyes. You definitely can’t wear sunglasses though.

Can you wear makeup in your passport photo?

Makeup is allowed in passport photos, as long as it is done subtly, and doesn’t change your facial appearance too much.

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