Passport photos: What you need to know

Are you planning your next flight? Have you checked if your passport is still valid?

Wait. Will you be travelling with a baby for the first time? Then you might not know this but your baby or infant needs a passport as well!

And now we come to the big question… how to take a baby passport photo? What are the requirements for a passport photo in general? Read on to find out.

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Can you take your own passport photos?

You can, in most cases, have someone (for example, your partner or a friend) take your passport photo but no selfies are allowed.

However, for a Canadian passport, for instance, you are required to have your photo taken by a commercial photographer or studio. That’s why it’s crucial to check the specific requirements for your country or the one you need a passport for. If you fail to meet some of them, your application will be delayed.

Note that you need a new photo every time you apply for a new passport. The photo must have been taken in the last month.

What is acceptable for a passport photo?

There are some requirements valid worldwide, but depending on the country, there are slight changes.

Here are the criteria for a UK passport photo. It must:

  • be clear and in focus;
  • be unaltered by computer software;
  • contain no other objects or people;
  • be taken against a plain light-coloured background;
  • be in clear contrast to the background;
  • not have ‘red eye’.

In the photo, you must:

  1. be facing forwards and looking straight at the camera;
  2. have a plain expression, with your mouth closed;
  3. have your eyes open and visible;
  4. not have hair in front of your eyes;
  5. not have a head covering (unless for religious or medical reasons);
  6. not have anything covering your face;
  7. not have any shadows on your face or behind you;
  8. not be wearing any sunglasses or tinted glasses (you can wear glasses if necessary but your eyes must be visible without any glare or reflection).

If you are applying for a passport using a paper form, you need 2 identical printed photos that must:

  • measure 45 mm high by 35mm wide (which is the standard size used in photo booths in the UK);
  • not be a cut down version of a larger picture.

The image of you - that is, from the crown of your head to your chin - must be between 29 and 34 mm high.

Your printed passport photos must be a close-up of your full head and upper shoulders and be:

  • printed to a professional standard;
  • in colour on plain white photographic paper with no border;
  • without any creases or tears;
  • unmarked on both sides (unless needed to be countersigned).

Note that when sending your passport application, your photos should be separate from each other, left loose and not attached to the application form.

If you’re applying online, you need to submit a digital passport photo. Your digital photos must be:

  • at least 600 pixels wide and 750 pixels tall;
  • at least 50 KB and no more than 10 MB.

Can I take a baby passport photo myself?

The same answer applies here - in most cases, it is allowed to take your baby’s photo on your own, but you should double check with the specific requirements in your country.

How do you take a baby's passport photo?

This can be tricky. Luckily, there aren’t so many strict rules for babies and infants.

In the UK, the baby passport photo requirements are the following:

  1. Babies must be on their own in the picture, without any other objects (such as toys). You can support their head with your hand, but your hand must not be visible in the photo.
  2. Children under 6 do not have to be looking directly at the camera or have a neutral expression.
  3. Children under one can have their eyes closed.
  4. Children under one should lie on a plain light-coloured sheet. Take the photo from above.

This is what most parents do. Taking a baby passport photo at home is often easier and less stressful for everybody involved, since you can wait for the perfect moment to try (for example, after feeding) and take as many shots as you need. Another good option is to have a professional baby photographer come to your home.

Now you know what the general criteria for passport photos are, and specifically those in the UK. Once again, remember to double check for a different country, Visa applications, etc.

Stay safe!