If you have ever seen a passport, you know that it is a form of photo ID. A passport features a photo of its bearer.
It’s not surprising. A passport is more than a piece of photo ID. It is an important travel document that lets you travel outside of your own country. It tells authorities your identity and nationality, and allows them to track where you are traveling. Your photo helps identify it surely as you, in combination with your full name and birthday and country of citizenship.
There is a thriving market in forged passports, however. Plenty of people try to defraud on their applications and pretend to be someone they are not. Because of this, the requirements for your passport photo are very stringent. It you compare the requirements to those for other government ID or your work ID, they are much tighter. It’s critical so that the photo provides reliable identification that you are the proper owner of the passport.
The number one requirement is that the photo be good quality and look like you. There can’t be any problems or issues with the photo. If there are, it will cause problems in your passport application.
Do you have a good picture of you that you figure you can use for a passport photo? Well, you may be able to use it – if it conforms to a laundry list of requirements. It must be two inches by two inches, for starters. It has to be color, and printed on thin photo stock or paper. The print has to be what is called continuous tone. It also has to be unretouched – no enhancing, editing, or retouching of any kind should have been done to the photo.
Even if your photo meets these requirements, you have still more rules to follow. Does the photo feature your full head, centered within the frame? Does your eye height hit between 1 1/8 inches to 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the photo edge? Is the background plain, and either white or off white with no other items or features? Do you have a natural expression on your face?
Clearly there are a bunch of requirements for a passport photo. If you figure that a picture you want to use is close enough even if it meets most but not all of the requirements, you will find that you have delayed your passport application.
Once you realize this, you’ll likely come to the conclusion that it makes more sense to have a passport photo taken professionally by a photographer who knows what is required.