What to Wear for Passport Photo in 2023 (Updated)

What to wear for passport photo
Credit: SouthJersey

If you want to feel confident flashing your passport at customs checkpoints for the next decade, it needs to look good.

Although the U.S. Department of State strictly prohibits selfies, these days, you can take your own passport photo. That means you’re no longer limited to taking it under the lovely fluorescent lights of your local Walgreens.

However, there are restrictions on what you can wear in a passport photo.

This guide will go over the “passport photo dress code,” including the requirements, the best colors to wear, what clothing or accessories not to wear, exceptions, and tips to consider when selecting what to wear.

Does It Matter What You Wear In A Passport Photo?

When you enter a new country, the only thing a customs officer can see is your passport photo to determine if you are the person to whom the passport and visa belong. Your home country’s identification documents will not work anywhere else in the world. Only a passport is recognized as a valid international identification document. If your picture on this passport isn’t up to par, you can be deported back to your home country right from the airport!

As a result, it is safe to say that you must ensure that you wear the appropriate clothing and accessories in your passport photo to avoid any misunderstandings with airport authorities and have a hassle-free traveling experience. You should also avoid wearing certain accessories and other items that may cause you problems.

What to Wear for Passport Photo: Standard Regulations (Man & Woman)

#1. Dimensions and Resolution

Getting the dimensions correct is arguably the most difficult aspect of providing your own passport photo. The US Department of State requires a two-inch-long and-wide square photo. From the bottom of the chin to the top of the head, your face should take up between one and three-eights of an inch.

This is a #nofilter zone, so the photo should show you clearly and without editing. Selfies are also not permitted “because they are frequently the incorrect size and have the incorrect head position.” You must either have someone else take the photo or use a tripod.

Your passport photo should be sharp and printed on photo-quality paper, not blurry, grainy, or pixelated paper. As long as there are no holes, creases, or smudges, it can be matte or glossy.

#2. Color and Lighting Needs

The Department of State prefers color photos, but not ones with a lot going on in the background. Photos must be taken in front of a plain, untextured white or off-white background with no shadows. Your skin tone should be accurately represented in the photograph if you are well-lit.

#3. Only Recent Photos Allowed

According to the rules, your photo must be taken within six months of submitting your passport application. “We verify that the photo looks like you,” the Department of State website says, presumably by comparing your photo to that on your driver’s license or other form of identification.

#4. Posing for Passport Photos

Keep the sultry or amusing poses for Instagram. The State Department recommends that passport photos have “a neutral facial expression with both eyes open and mouth closed.” There will be no cheesy grins, silly faces, or pouts.

You should be facing the camera directly in the photo, with your entire face visible. Getting a passport photo for a baby or young child is more difficult than it appears. According to the State Department, there is more leeway for baby passport photos.

What to Wear (and What to Avoid): Overview (Man & Woman)

Passport photos are not the place to show off your fashion sense. The State Department prefers that your photo be “taken in clothing that is normally worn on a daily basis.” However, no uniforms or clothing that resembles a uniform are permitted. Also, no camouflage clothing.

In your photograph, you should not wear a hat or head covering. If you are wearing a hat or head covering for religious or medical reasons, you must submit a signed statement that “verifies that the hat or head covering is part of recognized, traditional religious attire that is customarily or required to be worn continuously in public, or a signed doctor’s statement verifying the item is used daily for medical purposes,” according to the State Department. Even with signed statements, your entire face must be visible.

Wearing headphones or earpieces is also prohibited. However, you may wear jewelry, including body jewelry, as long as it does not cover your face. “Permanent tattoos are acceptable for passport purposes as well,” the guidelines state.

In terms of glasses, the Department of State changed its policy in 2016. Even if you’re not using a flash camera, you must now remove your glasses for the photo. If you have a passport from before 2016 with a photo of you wearing glasses, it is still valid. However, when you take a new photo for renewal, you must remove them. If you are unable to remove your glasses for the photo due to a medical condition, the State Department requires a signed note from your doctor.

What You Shouldn’t Wear in Your Passport Photo (Man & Woman)

While the rules regarding what you should wear are fairly lax, and you are permitted to wear almost anything, certain items are strictly prohibited from being worn on your head. These are some examples:

#1. Glasses

This allows authorities to see your eyes clearly whenever necessary. Nothing that covers your face is permitted, including required equipment like this. If necessary, you can have your picture taken with transparent contact lenses. Wearing lenses that change the color of your eyes can cause problems in the future. In most cases, simply taking your glasses off for the photo would suffice.

#2. Head Coverings or Hats

Such items are not permitted to cover the top of your head. Your entire face must be visible. Hats are more for aesthetics than for identity, and the majority of them only cover your face and obscure your identity. As a result, hats are always requested to be removed before taking your passport photo. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule.

#3. Headphones or Facial Jewelry

Such items are distracting and are generally not permitted for a passport photograph, and they will be rejected right away. Earbuds cover your ears and are, therefore, not permitted. Small earrings, such as studs, are generally permitted. Necklaces that can cause glare due to camera lighting are also strictly prohibited. Normal and simple jewelry, on the other hand, is acceptable.

#4. Uniforms and Camouflage Attire.

Workwear such as fatigues, gowns, or robes are not permitted. Children are also not permitted to wear school or scout uniforms. No uniforms, including camouflage or clothing that resembles a uniform, are permitted.

#5. Wearing White Clothing

Wearing a white shirt or other white clothing for your passport photo blends in with the background and does not work well with the rest of the picture. Blue or dark-colored shirts are ideal for passport photos.

What Not To Wear Exceptions

The above list may appear stringent to all of us, and in every case, it is; however, there are certain exemptions to a passport photo for you on various grounds. If you require any special exemptions, they can be found here.

Certain Hats

Due to religious and medical reasons, certain hats are exempt from the rule of having to be removed from one’s head when taking a passport photo. Sikhs, for example, can wear their turban for passport photos because their turban is their identity. Similarly, if you have a religious requirement that prevents you from completely removing your hat, you can choose this exemption and face no consequences.


Eyeglasses are permitted as a medical necessity if there is no other option for all purposes and needs. In most cases, this only allows you to wear contact lenses. Even if you choose contact lenses, it is best to use transparent ones that do not change the color of your eyes to avoid confusion later.


  • Minimalist layering necklaces, serpentine chains, and studs (rather than pendants) are acceptable.
  • Permanent tattoos are not a problem. The same is true for facial piercings, “as long as they do not hide your face,” according to the US Department of State.
  • If you regularly wear hearing aids, you can include them in your passport photo.

What Clothing Colors Are Appropriate for a Passport Photo?

Colors do matter.

Colors are important to consider when selecting an outfit for your passport photo, as they may cause your application to be rejected if they are not appropriate.

The following colors are not permitted in passport photographs:

  • White
  • Off-white
  • Light beige or gray
  • Pastel colors like light blue or salmon

All of the colors mentioned above blend with the white background and have an effect on image quality.

Instead, choose dark colors. The following are the best colors to wear for a passport photo:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Navy blue
  • Burgundy

These colors work well with the white backdrop. While vivid colors are acceptable, excessively loud or bright colors should be avoided.

The main point to remember is to avoid wearing white clothing in your passport photo.

How to Dress for a Passport Photo: Outfit Ideas and Tips

These four simple guidelines will assist you in selecting the best clothing for a passport photo:

#1. Maintain Simplicity

Nothing out of the ordinary. Avoid loud prints and other potentially divisive clothing. In a passport photo, a plain T-shirt is adequate.

Remember that your passport book is valid for ten years. You might come to regret wearing that outlandish outfit.

#2. Avoid a Formal or Sporty Appearance.

You can absolutely wear a suit in a passport photo. While a passport photo with a tie is acceptable, a V-neck sweater or a collared shirt will suffice.

However, wearing sportswear is not a good idea because you may be required to show this photo to your new employer or during the study or business visa application process. While the image is accurate, it only shows from the shoulders up, so you can still wear sweatpants or leggings.

#3. Wear Something You Feel Comfortable In

Opt for everyday clothes that you wear frequently and that you feel comfortable and yourself in, nothing too complicated.

#4. Avoid Wearing Tank Tops and Turtlenecks

The issue with tank tops is that photo cropping can make it appear as if you are wearing… Absolutely nothing!

Turtlenecks, on the other hand, completely cover your neck. And, despite the fact that the official requirements make no mention of turtlenecks, some people have reported problems with turtlenecks in passport photos.

So, now that you know what to wear for a passport photo, it’s time to take your picture in the most relaxed and uncomplicated way possible.

Can a passport photo be taken without a shirt?

No, your passport photo will not be accepted unless you wear clothing that covers your chest. If you wear a black or dark shirt that covers your chest but not your neck and chin, you will be on the right track to taking a valid passport photo.

Is it okay for me to wear a hoodie in my passport photo?

Yes, you can wear a hoodie in a passport photo if you remove the hood and keep it behind your back so that it does not conceal your facial features. However, because you may need to show this picture when applying for a new job or a visa, it’s best to wear something less sporty.

Is it permissible to wear a sweatshirt in a passport photo?

While wearing a sweatshirt in a passport photo is acceptable, you should consider wearing a sweater or a shirt instead to make your image appear more professional.

Why am I not allowed to wear a uniform in my passport photo?

The sole purpose is to disassociate the holder from any particular treatment involved, such as being a member of an army or a congregation.


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