You’re planning a big trip and you’re excited. But how much will a passport cost? Don’t worry – we’re going to walk you through how to save money on passport photos. Once you’re familiar with U.S. passport photo requirements, you can take them yourself and print them cheap (or even for free). Here’s how to take your own passport photo.
Whether you’re submitting a new passport application or just putting in for a standard renewal, your application will need to include a passport picture. You can walk into a UPS store, CVS or Walgreens and get your passport photos taken. It will run you $15 for two photos, but what it can also cost you is time. On our last Walgreens passport photo run, we spent 45 minutes waiting for the photos to print after they were taken because the machines were running other orders. If you take the photo on your own and just submit it to be printed, you’ll not only save around $14 ,but you’ll also save time. You can drop by to pick it up once you know it’s ready.
Passport Photo Requirements
First things first. Let’s review what passport photo requirements are. If you’re going to make an effort to save money on the photos, you want to make sure you get them right the first time! It doesn’t help your budget if you need to retake them.
Passport photos must check these boxes:
- Taken in the last six months
- Photo must be in color
- No filters or selfies. This isn’t Instagram.
- Position yourself in front of a plain white or off white background.
- You need a neutral expression. While you may be giddy to be traveling, save it for the plane.
- Your full face must be showing and you need to be facing the camera straight on. No head tilts.
- The photo needs to be printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper. No rips, holes, tears, stains or shenanigans.
- You cannot digitally edit the photo in any way, not even to remove red eye.
Things you cannot have in passport photos:
- No glasses. If you cannot take them off for medical reasons, you need a signed doctor’s statement.
- No hats or head coverings. (Please note: if you wear a head covering for religious or medical reasons, you may wear it in your passport photo. You will need to submit a signed statement detailing that it is what you wear daily as part of your recognized religions traditional attire or a doctor’s signed statement outlining medical need.)
- No uniforms or camouflage allowed.
- Put those AirPods in their case. No headphones or wireless hands-free devices can be worn.
Passport Photo Size
Your passport photo must be square, 2 inches by 2 inches. In that square your head MUST measure 1 inch to 1 3/8 inch from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin. Basically, this means make sure your head doesn’t fill the whole photo. There are a number of ways to measure photo composition on different programs online that we’ll run through.
TravelingMom Tip: Questions always come up about kids and passports. We have an entire article devoted to how to take a passport photo of your baby. We know that babies and kids look different from year to year. Please rest assured that although passport photos should be similar to your current appearance, exceptions are made for kids under 16. If your child doesn’t look like the photo in her passport due to the normal aging process, she can still use it.
How to Take a Passport Photo
Grab your digital camera or phone and find some favorable light. Your photo will need to be well lit, but not washed out. You want a plain white background. This means you can’t use a door that has a bunch of ridges on it. There are a few easy ways to accomplish the white background. Find a white wall or create one. You can put up a piece of white poster board or hang a sheet over a door and stand in front of it.
Honestly, taking the photo is the easiest part. With the capabilities of iPhones and other mobile devices, quality photos are in your hands at all times. The sizing, cropping and maintaining all passport photo requirements is the hard part.
Enter apps. There are many, many app options to make meeting requirements a breeze. Gone are the days of pulling out the millimeter ruler to measure.
Getting the Size Right
Passport Photo Booth– You can either import or take your photo in this app for free. Use the template guide to ensure that it meets passport photo requirements set by the U.S. Department of State. Once you have the picture taken and sized, you can either email it to yourself to print on photo paper, have it printed at your local drugstore OR you can order professional prints for under $6.
My Passport Photos– This website (which also has an app that accompanies it) is fantastic for those who may also need visa photos. Filtering by country produces easy to follow requirements, and it will guide you through the photo taking process. Photos will be shipped to you for as low as .99. Two passport photos will run you about 5.99 at the time of this writing, half of what you’d pay at a drugstore.
EPassportPhoto– Use their super simple tool to upload your photos. With two green lines as an overlay, the app will show you exactly where your face needs to fit and let you know if you aren’t compliant. Then just print the correctly-sized photos off at home.
Printing Options for Passport Photos and the Costs
There are multiple options when it comes to printing passport photos. If you have a photo printer or a printer that is capable of printing color photos, you can print them at home for the cost of a few sheets of photo quality paper.
You can send your order in online to be printed and picked up at your local Walmart, which will run around $8.
You can also put the photo on a memory stick or bring a cord for your phone to your local CVS or Walgreens. Use their photo machine to print the photos. For this option, it is easiest to create a collage of two side by side on a 4×6 to meet size requirements.
Already ordered an expedited passport and it hasn’t arrived in time? Here’s what to do.
Have you ever taken your own passport photos? How did they come out?