Passport Photo Dress Code: Dos, Don’ts, Tips & Inspirations

A picture divided in half representing two types of outfit for a passport photo—one that is acceptable and the other that will be rejected.
As seen on:

Can you wear a T-shirt for a passport photo?

Are glasses acceptable?

Is there a dress code for US passport photos at all?

If you’re asking yourself such questions, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article we’ll look into:

Not sure your new look will be accepted by US passport agents? Don’t risk getting your photo rejected due to some new threads, piercings, or accessories. Simply download our Passport Photo Booth App for iOS or Passport Photo Maker App for Android and get instant confirmation your attire is passport photo compliant.

A photo taken with PhotoAiD’s mobile phone app and turned into a valid passport photograph in 3 seconds.

Interested in other aspects of US passport photos? Give these a read:

Passport photo clothing: dos & don’ts

To answer the question once and for all: there is no specific dress code for the US passport photos.

What applicants should follow, though, are the official guidelines regarding pieces of clothing, colors, and accessories.

✅ Dos

Here’s what you should focus on while choosing your passport photo attire:

  • Casual clothes. Even though suits and dresses aren’t prohibited, it’s better to show up for your US passport picture in your everyday outfit
  • Darker colors. Bear in mind that the American passport photo’s background must be white, so any light-colored clothes might blend with it. Choose darker, plain colors
  • Simple accessories. Opt for small, delicate earrings and hair accessories that won’t be easily visible

Now you know what’s good for your passport photo. What about the things you should avoid?

❌ Don’ts

Here’s what’s better to put away while dressing for your US passport photo:

  • White clothes, and any other light-colored pieces as they can easily blend with the background and cause the “floating head” effect
  • Uniforms and camouflage
  • Visible hair accessories
  • Excessive jewelry
  • Glasses
  • Head coverings

While most don’ts are indisputable, there are two exceptions to the rules.

Exceptions

In specific cases, these are allowed:

  • Prescription glasses. US citizens are only allowed to wear their glasses for a passport photo if they’re absolutely necessary for the person’s vision. Plus, they must confirm their medical condition with a signed doctor’s statement
  • Head covering is allowed only for religious or medical purposes. So, it’s okay to wear traditional religious attire, like a hijab or fedora, as long as no facial features are covered

In both cases, the applicants must ensure that their facial features are fully visible and that no shadows or glares are in the photo.

A table representing what you should and shouldn’t wear for your US passport photos.

How to dress for a passport photo—tips

Still not sure how to compose your passport photo outfit? Worry not! Below you will find five extra tips that will help you pick acceptable attire.

Tip #1: Pick the casual

It’s better to choose everyday clothes rather than dress up for your passport picture. Remember that biometric photography’s role is to reflect a person’s everyday, natural look. Avoid heavy makeup and hairstyles that may disturb the photo or obscure your face.

Tip #2: Stick to darker colors

Light-colored clothes will most certainly blend with the white background. To avoid this, choose garments in darker colors. The colors can range from classic black to delicate brown, but you can also let your imagination flow and choose some pink or blue hues!

Tip #3: Avoid prints and bright elements on your clothes

While you can choose the colors rather freely, pay attention to the material and prints on your outfit. Avoid very loud prints or shiny materials, like sequins. Plain outfit in the color of your choice (except white) will do the trick.

Tip #4: Limit the accessories

If you decide to wear jewelry for your passport pictures, be careful. Opt for small earrings and avoid shiny and long pieces. They may not only obscure your face, but also cause reflections. Put the necklaces and headbands aside. If you need to keep your hair in place, use simple bobby pins—preferably in the color of your hair.

Tip #5: Avoid turtleneck, high-collar shirts, or tank tops

Yes, we just mentioned “pick the casual” before. However, if you hesitate between a smart-casual turtleneck and a simple T-shirt, go for the T-shirt.That’s because turtlenecks and high-collar shirts can obscure your facial features. So, make sure to pick the clothes in which your face and the neckline are clearly visible.

Note: Ensure that you don’t wear anything that may be too revealing. That is why a tank top is a big no-no for passport photos—because of the way the pictures are cropped, you might look like you’re actually wearing nothing at all.

Outfit ideas for your passport photos

If you’re standing in front of your wardrobe trying on different outfits, this section is right for you.

Take a look at our five suggestions—mix them, pick the one you like, or just get inspired.

Note: The photos present acceptable outfits. Remember that wide smiles, glasses, and partially covered faces are not allowed in your passport photo.

Five examples of acceptable outfits for US passport photos.
  1. A simple, dark-colored sweater is always a good idea.
  2. Polo shirts are a timeless piece of clothing. It’ll be a good choice for your passport photo.
  3. More elegant, dark shirt? It will do the trick.
  4. If you’re traveling mostly for business purposes, you might want to take your US passport photo in a suit. And that’s fine, too.
  5. A businesswoman look? Go for a jacket and a simple shirt.

Most importantly—choose the outfit you will feel comfortable in.

And if you still have some doubts about your passport photo clothing, get our experts’ feedback. Use PhotoAiD®—our easy-to-use passport photo tool, and get your photographs in under 3 minutes! Thanks to unlimited takes, you can experiment with your outfits as many times as you need.

I think that apps for taking photos for official documents are a perfect solution […] I guess it’s dependent on each individual but for photo ID I don’t see the need for a “real” photographer or studio setup, it seems unnecessary.

Rosie Matheson, professional photographer
A photo taken with PhotoAiD’s mobile phone app and turned into a valid passport photograph in 3 seconds.

What to wear for a passport photo—key takeaways

Let’s say it once again:

There’s no official dress code for US passport photos.

Simply keep in mind the following recommendations from the State Department:

  • Avoid white clothes, uniforms, camouflage, and excessive accessories
  • Go for a casual, everyday look—but suits and dresses are fine as well
  • No glasses or head covering, unless you wear it for medical or religious purposes

And if you’re still unsure if your outfit passes the test, check it with PhotoAiD®!

FAQs

Couldn’t find the answer you were looking for? Check out these frequently asked questions:

Can you wear facial piercings for your passport photo?

Yes, you can. Facial piercings—as well as permanent tattoos—are allowed in US passport photos. However, you must ensure that they don’t cover any part of your face or cast shadows.

Can I wear hearing aids for my passport photo?

Yes, you can. Any equipment you need to wear for medical purposes is allowed in passport photos. Remember about providing a signed doctor’s statement confirming your condition.

Why can’t you wear uniforms for passport photos?

Passport photos are designed for easy recognition by authorities, without bias or prejudice. Uniforms can provoke emotions and obscure facial features, making them unsuitable for these photos.

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