Guide on the Appropriate Dress Code for a Passport Photo

A photo studio & a rack of colorful clothes and “Passport Photo Dress Code Guide” title in the middle.

You want to look good in your passport photo, right? Of course you do, as do we all. It’s such an important document when you can’t stop traveling and crossing border after border, so it is only natural that you might want to make sure you look the part in the passport photo.

The key aspect, though, is that passport photos play by a different set of rules that might clash with your fashion sense, but lucky for you, we’re here to assist. Let’s see what the passport photo dress code is all about, shall we?

What to wear on a passport photo? – Go casual

Do remember that taking a passport photo, while a very serious and important matter, doesn’t require you to dress up too much. You can put away the suit and hide that fancy new tie or a dress you’ve scavenged lately. Go for something you wear on a daily basis, like a V-neck or a collared shirt, maybe a pair of jeans, or anything else you’d turn to when you’re just going outside and want to look at least presentable.

If you decided to spice up your look and opted for something less casual just remember that the passport photo will be cropped either way. There is a significant chance, then, that the outfit you chose or at least a large part of it will not make it to the final photo made specifically for passport purposes.

In short, keep it simple with clothes and other accessories, and save them for a better occasion, especially since it is the U.S. State Department that officially gives casual attire a big thumbs-up. 

What not to wear for a passport photo – 5 deal-breakers

The fact that you can go ahead and pick your favorite casual outfit is no doubt good news, but there are still a few rules you must keep in mind, which we’ll discuss thoroughly in a minute. Pay close attention to the next 5 deal-breakers and you’ll be able to take a perfect passport photo you’ll love to look at.

Rule #1: Uniforms and camouflage attire

There are limitations to what you can choose to wear and uniforms or anything else that may resemble a uniform is actually a big no-no. This includes scout attire or clothes you might wear at work, for example.

Camouflage attire is another piece of clothing you might want to leave at home in the drawer. Pick any other t-shirt, a blouse or anything else you’d like to see in the new passport photo.

Rule #2: Glasses

You can find out via Vision Council America that roughly 64 (sixty-four) percent of U.S. citizens wear glasses and since they’re pretty much used to them, they might feel it fair game to leave them on during passport photo shoots. Glasses, however, are an accessory that is prohibited and you will be asked to remove them for the passport picture.

Only in a situation in which you are required to wear them for medical purposes can you let them stay and the passport photo will retain its validity. If it sounds exactly like something you might be involved in, be certain to bring a signed statement from a doctor or another authentic document that might confirm the need for the glasses to remain in the photo. 

Rule #3: Head coverings

Lots of people like wearing hats or other headgear, like headphones, for example, be it purely for fun or to express their fashion style. If you feel the same way, then you will need to take any and all head coverings off for the duration of the photo session, unless you can take advantage of the exceptions to the rule.

These are head coverings for medical or religious purposes that will have no effect on the validity of passport photos and will pass muster at the passport agency. 

You are allowed to wear a kippah, a hijab or a turban, for instance, or any other piece of traditional religious attire that the culture you come from or the religion you follow requires. 

A signed doctor’s statement will also ensure that whatever head covering you need for medical purposes can stay as well. Your safety and well being is of paramount importance and passport acceptance facilities certainly won’t reject photos like that if you’ve a signed note explaining the matter.

Rule #4: Hair & hair accessories

The most significant rule surrounding passport photos is that your full face should be clearly visible, which means that should you opt for a hairstyle that covers some parts of your face even slightly, you will need to consider another hairstyle for your soon-to-be new passport photo.

Your eyes and eyebrows should be perfectly visible in the picture, so if you’re sporting bangs, you’ll need to either tie them up or brush them to the side. Adjust your hairstyle a little and go for it. A great passport photo is at an arm’s length.

You should also leave any larger hair accessories at home. Anything that can disturb the shape of your head on the passport photo, like a ribbon, for instance, will need to wait for a better occasion. Instead, you should opt for thin ponytail holders or bobby pins, as these two can stay.

Rule #5: Makeup on passport photos

Passport photos are supposed to showcase the natural self, so treat the photo session as a chance to celebrate your natural look. Heavy make-up is not allowed because you need to be easily recognized when you’re crossing borders, for example, and security attempts to confirm your identity. 

That is why I should either go full natural or use very subtle make-up for the upcoming passport photo. Keep natural skin color and don’t alter it in any significant way. Stay your hand and don’t apply facial powders or foundations with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) higher than 15 (fifteen).

Use natural bronze colors of lipstick or blushes and pay attention not to overdo the make-up. If at any moment you find yourself wondering if you’ve gone a bit too overboard, you probably did.

What’s allowed in passport photo dress code

Even though the official passport photo dress code requirements can be strict, there are still plenty of options, like pieces of clothing or accessories that you can wear to add extra pizzazz to your passport book.

Below you’ll find everything that gets a thumbs-up in the passport photo.

Tattoos in passport photos

Permanent tattoos are perfectly fine and can feature in a passport photo that can still be considered valid. You can stop worrying about it and start completing the clothes you’d like to wear for the photo shoot.

Jewelry & piercings in passport photos

The general rule is that your full face needs to be 100% visible in the photo. You can wear jewelry but any piece that might hide facial features, however, is off-limits. A perfect example could be a large earring or any other slightly larger piece that might make it harder to successfully identify you. Facial piercings are also okay.

Hearing aid equipment

If you wear hearing aids on a regular basis you can have them in your own passport picture as well, so no worries. Devices like that can stay, but please remember to bring some documentation confirming you require such equipment. A signed note from a medical practitioner will certainly do the trick.

Passport photo dress code for children & infants

Passport dress code rules for children are, in fact, rather flexible. If you need to take a picture of your newborn baby, all you need to prepare is a white, or light-toned, background, and position your child in such a way that they are facing the camera. As long as nothing hides any of their facial features, their full face is visible and they keep a neutral expression, you’re good to go. 

Dress them up in non-white clothes, because the color of their clothes and the background shouldn’t be the same.

As your children grow, they’ll have to comply with the same U.S. passport dress code rules as you. That concludes, of course, casual clothes, no headgear unless for religious or medical reasons supported by a signed doctor’s statement verifying headwear and everything else we’ve already covered in previous sections.

Got your outfit ready? Take your luck with PhotoAiD

Since you’re looking for passport photo attire guidelines, you might also be interested in the most convenient ways to have your perfect passport shot taken. So suit up (remember, go casual) and find a white wall that will act as your background. Let someone else take a photo and voilà.

PhotoAiD is a simple and user-friendly app that allows you to take passport pictures from anywhere, even from your own couch. Advanced AI-supported algorithms will transform your casual photos into perfectly fitted passport photographs, which are always in accordance with official regulations. The software scans your picture pixel by pixel and fixes everything in a matter of seconds, so it looks just like from a professional photo studio. 

What’s more, you can upload as many photographs as you simply want, choosing the one you fancy the most. You pay only for the final result and you can have your photos delivered to you in both digital or printed format.

All this comes with a guarantee of acceptance, and a double money refund in case of rejection.

Passport photo dress code:FAQs

What can you not wear in a passport photo?

Passport photo regulations recognize a wide variety of clothing that invalidates a passport picture, like an unauthorized headgear that isn’t confirmed as critical due to medical or religious reasons. 

Glasses, jewelry that hides certain features, make-up that’s too intense, camouflage clothing or attire that resembles a uniform are all prohibited. What’s more, avoid strapless clothing that might result in appearing as if you’re not wearing anything in the passport photo.

What makeup can you wear for a passport photo?

When preparing for a passport photo, you should remember to keep things simple. You can wear any makeup that doesn’t alter the color of your skin, first and foremost. Use matte colors for your eyeshadow and eyeliner, as well as try to keep your lip color as natural as possible and remember to opt out of a lip liner this time around.

Does it matter what you wear for a passport photo?

The short answer is yes, it really does. Passport photo rules are strict and a passport applicant needs to familiarize themselves with all the types of clothing or accessories that might turn a picture invalid and require correction.

Passport photo dress code – summary

The bottom line is this: casual’s the way to go and you should do your homework and see what can stay and what kind of outfits or accessories you ought to leave at home. Play with make-up if you like, but be careful and apply a minimal amount.

Now you should be ready to design your ideal look for a passport photo and what’s more, you know you can take the with PhotoAid and take care of everything without stepping outside.