If you’re jetting off on your travels this summer but need to renew your passport, the process has recently been made a little easier. Instead of tracking down a photo booth and paying for a set of passport photos as you usually would, you can now take your own digital passport photo at home.
You’ll need to find someone to help you, as you can’t take your photo yourself – which means no selfies. Unfortunately, you still can’t show off your best smile either, as the same strict rules around your appearance and pose apply for digital passport photos too. But this change does mean that you can save money, and hopefully some hassle, when renewing your passport – giving you a little extra spending money, and a less stressful lead up to your holiday.
You can submit your photo digitally as part of your online application to renew your passport, so you won’t need to worry about printing it out. If you don’t want to complete an online application and would prefer to fill out a paper form, then you’ll still need to get a traditional printed passport photo to send with your application.
Taking the perfect passport photo
Because of the rules around passport photos, you won’t be able to reuse an existing digital photo, so you’ll have to take a new picture specifically for your online passport application. Read on for some detailed passport photo tips to help you get your picture right first time.
Step one: Find a camera and a photographer
You can take your passport photo using any device that captures photo, whether that’s your phone, a digital camera, or a tablet. Then find someone to take your picture. You can’t submit a selfie as your passport photo, and you can’t use a webcam either, so you’ll need to find a helpful friend or family member to lend a hand.
A tripod is optional, but may make it easier to keep the camera steady and level.
Step two: Find a plain background and the right position
It’s important to use a plain background that is light grey or cream in colour. Avoid standing in front of tiled walls or patterned wallpaper, and make sure there are no objects in the frame.
Then get into position. You should stand 1.5 metres away from the person taking the photo, and half a metre from the wall.
Step three: Ensure there is space around your head and shoulders
Your photo should not be closely cropped – the Passport Office will crop your image once they’ve received your application. Check the space around your head and shoulders to ensure there is enough room around them.
Step four: Check the lighting
The best lighting is natural lighting, so if possible position yourself facing towards a window. There should be no shadows on your face or behind your head, and the light should be even. Don’t stand too close to a lamp, as this will only light one side of your face.
Step five: Remove headwear
You should take off any headwear unless it’s worn for religious or medical reasons. Remove anything that could obstruct your photo, such as hair clips or glasses on the top of your head.
Step six: Make sure your face and eyes are visible
Your whole face should be visible in the photo, so you may need to tie your hair back if it covers your face or eyes in any way. If you have a longer fringe, it may be best to sweep it to the side.
If you wear glasses, ensure that there are no reflections in the glass, as these can obscure your eyes. The Passport Office recommends removing glasses but if you must wear them, take care to avoid glare on the lenses. It’s also worth noting that sunglasses and tinted lenses aren’t permitted – save those for your holiday!
Step seven: Don’t smile!
Look straight at the camera with a neutral expression. Your mouth should be closed and you shouldn’t smile.
Once you’ve taken your photo, check that the image is clear and in focus, with no red-eye. You shouldn’t make any edits to your image using computer software.
There you have it, seven simple steps to help you take the perfect passport photo. We adapted these tips from advice provided by the Passport Office, and if you’d like more information, you can find an overview of the rules for digital passport photos on their website.