My Passport Application Was Rejected: Why?

My Passport Application Was Rejected

You want to go on international travel soon, so the first thing to do is apply for a passport. Once you do that, you wait patiently for your passport to arrive. It should be here in the next 18 weeks. Unfortunately, after a few weeks, you don’t receive your passport but a letter from the National Passport Information Center (NPIC) informing you that your passport application is “on hold.” You’ve never heard of a passport application being rejected before; what can you do now? 

Hopefully, we’ve compiled all the information needed to fix your application and receive your awaited passport. Scroll down to have all the answers to your questions! 

Why was my passport application rejected? 

Various reasons can lead a passport application to be rejected. Here are the most common ones : 

  • Missing information: the NPIC might ask for additional information if your DS-11 application was not filled out correctly. In that case, once they have the complete information, they will resume processing your application. In some cases, the application can be rejected if the form is blank or not understandable. Reapply if that happens to your application. 
  • Quality photocopies: the quality of the photocopies of your legal documents (birth certificate, ID card, expired passport) can also be a reason for your application to be rejected. If they are of poor quality, you will have to send new ones in the next 90 days. Even if the original document was printed on both sides, do not make double-sided copies and do not staple copies together.
  • Payment: errors of payment can occur if you’ve written the wrong amount or payee on your check. If that happens, your passport application will be set “on hold,” and you will have to send the correct payment in the next 90 days. The State Department accepts paper checks (personal checks, traveler’s checks, and cashier’s checks) and money orders for your payment. Cash is not accepted. The amount to pay to the “U.S. Department of State” will be specified in the letter you received after your rejected passport application.
  • Legal problems: various legal issues can lead your passport application to be rejected. This includes owing money for child support, being on felony parole or probation, and having an arrest warrant. Whatever legal problem you may have, settle it before applying for a passport. If your application is already rejected, you will have to reapply later, and unfortunately, your fees won’t be refunded. 
  •  And last but not least, your passport photo! There is a good chance that your passport application was rejected because of your passport photo. To fix this, send new passport photos that meet the State Department’s passport photo requirements in the next 90 (ninety) days. Passport photo rejection is the most common cause of passport application rejection and the easiest to fix! 

Rejected passport photos: Can I retake them? 

If your passport application was rejected because a passport photo is not accepted, resend them in the next 90 days. The new images will have to meet the government requirements to be accepted. If you don’t send the photos in the next 90 days after you receive the passport rejection letter, you will have to reapply and re-pay the fees. 

Most commons errors that might cause your photo to be rejected

You might want to show a beautiful smile, lower down the light or pose like you would do for your social media profile pictures. Many ways to get a magnificent photo, unfortunately not for a passport photo. 

If you want your passport photo to be accepted for your application, you will have to fit the official requirements set by the State’s Department. Let’s see what are the most common errors when taking passport photos. 

Hair, clothes and accessories

There is no specification on what you should wear for your clothes, but you definitely can’t wear uniforms and camouflage patterns. 

As for the accessories, you can’t wear some that might cover your face; they have to be discreet (including face piercings). Glasses are not accepted in passport photos. As for hats, caps, headbands, etc., they are prohibited. Suppose you wear a headcover such as a hijab, yarmulke, or turban for religious, cultural, or medical reasons. You will need to provide a signed statement to wear it. 

Lastly, hair should fit the frame and not obstruct the visibility of your face. It’s preferable to tie your hair if necessary and make sure it doesn’t cover your face. 


The position is crucial for your passport photo to be accepted. You have to sit (or stand) straight and look directly at the camera. You can’t tilt your head, and your face has to be in the center of the picture, taking about 50 to 69% of the image’s height. Smiling is prohibited; your expression has to be neutral. 

Light and background 

The exposure to your photo needs to be optimal. Your face shouldn’t be over-lit or under-lit, not letting any disrupting shadows appear. Natural light is best for a passport photo, and because natural is best, do not use any filter that could tamper with the photo’s colors. 

As for the background, it should be a uniform, plain white background. The background should feature any objects, patterns, or people for a passport photo. 

Size and dimensions 

The U.S. passport photos should be of size 51 x 51 mm, and the face should take about 35 to 35 mm from the top of your head and the tip of the chin, leaving some space on the upper and side edges of the photo. 

To avoid your application being rejected a second time, perhaps even turned down completely, you should follow all of those requirements when taking your passport photo. 

To do so, you can take the photo at a photo studio with a professional photographer. You might even ask for a passport agency help for an infant’s or a child’s passport photo, but the cost will be higher. Post offices can also often take passport photos for $15, but you’ll have to get an appointment. You might even trust photo services in your local drug store. But you can also avoid costly or inconvenient solutions and take your own passport photos with the help of photo apps online.

PhotoAiD – rejected passport photos won’t happen again 

You can choose to avoid any passport photo being rejected by using our passport photo editor tool available on our website or by downloading our PhotoAiD app. Send us your photo and our A.I. system will evaluate your photo’s quality and suitability.

Once your best photo is sent and evaluated, your photo will be modified to fit the official U.S. requirements for passport photos. Our tool will resize, reframe and even replace your background and we guarantee you will receive quality results that will, for sure, be accepted for your passport application!  

You can save time by receiving the JPEG format via email or get it printed at your local drugstore! We even provide you with a guarantee, and if the passport office does not accept the passport photo, your money will be refunded and your photo replaced. Easy and quick, don’t worry about your passport photos anymore!

Let’s wrap up this passport application!

Passport applications can sometimes be harder than you thought, and you should make sure you follow the requirements so they won’t be rejected. To save money and time, apply properly for your passport and make sure to take the best passport photo! This way, we guarantee that it will be accepted by the U.S. Department of State and the NPIC. Then, you’ll only have to take off and take well-deserved vacations! 


Can a scout uniform be worn on a passport photo?

Uniforms are strictly prohibited on passport photos. Any uniform, including a scout uniform, will cause your passport application to be rejected. 

Can I wear my eyepatch on my passport photo?

An eyepatch will have to be removed if worn for esthetic reasons and can be removed. But if for medical reasons, you have to wear it at all times, then you’ll be able to wear it on your passport photo. Just make sure to provide a letter from your doctor. 

Do I need to shave off my beard?

Shaving your beard is unnecessary, and it might even be better not to if you usually wear one. The passport photo must reflect your appearance as well as possible. However, it might be better to have your beard well cut so it won’t obstruct the visibility of your face.