We’ve put together an extended guide from the Passport Office rules for taking a Passport Photo. We’ve added extra details from our experience and feedback from customers over the years. Plus we’ve tailored this to be of help to you should you decide to use our app to take your Passport Photo.
Do I need printed of Digital Passport Photos?
Paper Passport Application – Printed Photos
You need 2 identical printed photos if you are applying for a passport using a paper form which you can pick up from your local Post Office.
If you’re using our app you will get a set of 4 photos, so you will have two spares in case of any errors or you can use the other two for other types of ID.
Digital Application – Printed or Digital
You need either printed or digital photos if you’re applying online.
As you begin your application you will be asked a series of questions for the Passport Office to determine if you need digital or printed photos. You can still complete the application online but the format of the photo may be different depending on your circumstances.
Can I use an old or existing Passport Photo?
You must get a new photo when you get a new passport, even if your appearance has not changed.
Your photo must have been taken in the last month.
Our Passport Photo App doesn’t allow uploads from the camera roll or uploaded from any other source to ensure the photo is new and taken recently within the app itself. This reduces the chance of your Passport Application being delayed.
What size does a UK Passport Photo need to be?
If you’re using our app we’ll make sure your photo measures 45 millimetres (mm) high by 35mm wide (the standard size used in photo booths in the UK).
Our printed photos will also be cut to that precise size so you don’t have to.
If you’re using other services for your passport photo it is important to note that it must not be a cut down version of a larger picture.
If you use a passport photo service outside the UK, check it can give you photos that measure 45mm high by 35mm wide.
Common sizes for other countries
The quality of your printed photos
Your photos must be:
- printed to a professional standard
- If you’re using our app to take your photo we use passport photo machines and photographic paper that is used in Passport Photo booths so you can be assured the photo will be printed to a professional standard.
- clear and in focus
- If you’re using an iPhone/Andriod Phone it will automatically try to focus, but it doesn’t always know which area to focus on. If you tap the screen on the users face it will focus on their face.
- in colour on plain white photographic paper with no border
- without any creases or tears
- The photos we provide will be sent to you in a board back envelope so they arrive without any creases of folds.
- unmarked on both sides (unless a photo needs to be countersigned)
The paper we use has no watermark on that back so will be completely plain.
What your printed photos must show
Your photos must:
- be a close-up of your full head and upper shoulders
If you follow the face guide outline in the app you’ll know it’s the right distance. You can take the photo a little further away as we can adjust this but not closer.
- contain no other objects or people
This is of particular note to children and baby photos (link to children and baby rules) where this becomes more difficult.
- be taken against a plain cream or light grey background
If you’re taking your photo at home and need help with the background see our Tips for taking a Passport Photo at home section.
- be in clear contrast to the background
- not have ‘red eye’
If you’re using our app you can avoid red-eye by not using the phone’s camera flash and instead take the photo in a well-lit room. Read the lighting section for more details.
In your photo, you must:
- be facing forwards and looking straight at the camera
- have a plain expression and your mouth closed
- have your eyes open and visible
- not have hair in front of your eyes
- not have a head covering, hat or fashion accessory (unless it’s for religious or medical reasons but must not cover the face)
- not have any shadows on your face or behind you
If you’re taking a photo with your phone at home we have a section written about shadows & lighting you can read.
- Do not wear sunglasses or tinted glasses. If you wear glasses that you cannot take off, your eyes must be visible without any glare or reflections.
While you can wear glasses in a Passport Photo we highly recommend not to as reflection on the lens can make it hard for the Passport Office to clearly see the users eyes. The frames of the glasses can be an obstruction of the eyes and facial features too. Both of these reasons can result in delaying a Passport Application.
The size of your image
The sizes here are for a UK Passport Photo.
The image of you – from the crown of your head to your chin – must be between 29mm and 34mm high.
Our in-app guide highlights the crown and the chin areas to get your head within.
Occasionally you may find you cannot fit exactly into the dimensions. If this is a struggle you can take the photo a little further away from the camera. As part of our photo checks, we will make sure the head is within the dimensions and make any adjustments on our side, if needed.
If you’re using a digital photo for your application as opposed to printed the photo needs to be:
- at least 600 pixels wide and 750 pixels tall
- at least 50kb and no more than 10mb
Tips for taking a professional photo at home
Lighting & Shadows
- Use natural light if possible
- Alternatively, use a bulb that gives a cool white rather than a warm white. Cooler colour temperature bulbs are more readily available with today’s LED bulbs. Doing so avoids the photo being too yellow
- Giving plenty of lighting will help reduce shadows
- You can try increasing the distance between yourself and the background
- Check the face is uniformly illuminated to avoid uneven shadows cast over the face
- Use the rear camera on your phone as it not only gives a better quality photo but the “selfie” style won’t be accepted as it doesn’t give the right perspective or distance
- When taking the photo make sure the phone is eye level with the person you’re taking the photo of
- If you’re stood at a higher or lower level be conscious of the phones level to the person you are taking a photo of to keep the perspective level to them
- If you’re finding it hard to get a light grey/cream background get as close as you can to this colour and in our app leave a note that you need assistance with the background. We’ll check the background and give it a natural light grey appearance where possible or reply with tailored advice for your photo
- If you’re using a bed sheet or similar which is common for baby passport photos, try to keep the sheet as level as possible to reduce the amound of shadow in the folds when taking the photo
Photos of babies and children
These are the general rules for baby and child Passport photos. They can be particularly tricky to get the right photo so if you need extra help you can also read more in our tips to taking a baby passport photo section.
- Children must be on their own in the picture
- Babies must not be holding toys, using dummies or show their own wrists or hands in the photo
- Children under 6 do not have to be looking directly at the camera or have a plain expression
- Children under one do not have to have their eyes open. You can support their head with your hand, but your hand must not be visible in the photo
Tips for taking a Baby or child Passport Photo
Passport Services for the disabled
If you have a disability that means you can’t meet the passport photo requirements, you should:
- explain in section 8 of the application form, or in the additional information box if you apply online
- include a letter from your doctor or consultant that says what your condition is and whether it’s permanent or temporary
Submitting your photos
When sending a paper application, your photos must be:
- separated from each other
- left loose and not attached to your application form
When sending an online application, you can attach your photo from our app using a unique photo code you will be provided after using the app.
When you’re completing your online application you will first get to this screen:
- Select the “I have a photo code to enter” option if you have used our app for your digital photo
2. You will now be sent to this screen to enter the photo code, which we will have sent to you via email
should now have all the information to take your Passport Photo with our app or any other service. If you still have any queries do feel free to drop us an email and we’ll be happy to help.