can you smile in a passport photo

Can You Smile In A Passport Photo?

Taking passport photos is not something you do all that often. So, it might be difficult to remember all the rules that revolve around passport photos. Questions like “what do you need to wear in a passport photo?”, “How big should your head be relative to the frame?”, “And what size should the picture be?” are surely popping up in your head before you take that snapshot.

And aside from the particular rules about sizing, attire, and placement, your facial expression must also follow the requirements. That said, can you smile in a passport photo? 

We will answer this important question in this article to make sure that your passport application is approved in no time. Plus, we’ll give you some other crucial tips to capture the perfect passport photo, including where to get it done.

Let’s get started!

What Are The Requirements For Canadian Passport Photos?

Passport photo requirements vary from country to country. If you are applying for a Canadian passport, here are the general rules your passport photo must follow:

  • Your passport photo must be taken within 6 months of your application.
  • Your photo must be taken by a professional photographer. You cannot take your own photo and print it out for your application; this can result in a denial.
  • You must have a neutral expression in the photo with your eyes open and looking directly into the camera.
  • Your photo must be clear, sharp, and in focus. Blurry or out-of-focus photos will result in a denial.
  • Your photo must be taken in good lighting with no glare, reflections, or shadows.
  • Your photo must be printed on glossy photo quality paper.
  • Your photo must capture your natural skin tone; no filters allowed!
  • You must take your photo in front of a plain white or light-colored background. There must be a clear contrast between your head and the background. If you sit in a wheelchair, the headrest must be covered with a white sheet.
  • You cannot edit your face to get rid of flaws or change any part of your body. If your photo comes out with red eye or glare, you must retake the photo.
  • Your photographer must put down written information on the back of your passport photo, including the date when the photo was taken, as well as the name and complete address of the photo studio.
  • If the photo is of a minor, the guarantor must write “I certify this to be a true likeness of (applicant or child’s name)” and then sign the back of the passport photo.

So, Can You Smile in a Passport Photo?

The answer is ‘no’. The Government of Canada website explicitly states that you must take your passport photo with your mouth closed, no smiling. This means no natural smile with your lips slightly upturned either. You must have a neutral facial expression that represents your likeness in the most accurate way possible.

Similarly, every part of your face must be in a neutral position. You cannot raise your eyebrows, widen your eyes, flare your nostrils, or do anything with your face that makes you look different from your resting expression.

Not following these rules can delay your passport application process and may even cause a denial. You don’t want to go back to the photo studio and spend money on another round of passport photos just because you want to have a Mona Lisa smile on your passport.

Learn more about what your passport photo should look like from our previous blog post.

Tips to Take The Perfect Passport Photos

The Canadian government is very particular about passport photos. They will ask you to retake your passport photo if they see anything wrong with it, and this is the last thing you want considering the hassle of going back to the photo studio and resubmitting your passport photo.

So, to take the perfect passport photo the first time around, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Choose a Proper Hairstyle

The Canadian government allows passport applicants to wear their hair up or down as long as their entire face (including your ears) is visible. If you have bangs, you will need to push them out of your face. And if you have long hair, you will have to tuck your hair behind your ears before taking the photo. It’s best to bring a few bobby pins to the studio so that you can pull your hair back if needed.

You are only allowed to wear hats or head coverings for religious or medical reasons. And no – a receding hairline doesn’t qualify. And, your entire face must be visible in the photo – that means your head covering must not cast shadows on your face. You may also need to have a signed doctor’s statement if you are wearing a head covering for medical purposes.

Wear The Right Shirt

Pick a light-colored shirt with a regular collar. Don’t wear a white shirt. Doing so can make you blend in with the background and make it look like your head is floating. Avoid tube tops, sleeveless tops, and low-cut shirts as well. Pick a shirt that makes you feel comfortable and allows you to adhere to all the rules.

Consider Wearing Light Makeup

There is nothing wrong with getting a little glammed up for your passport photo. But, don’t overdo it – or you’ll be asked to wash your face and retake the photo. When wearing makeup for a passport photo, you cannot alter your appearance drastically. This means you can’t have popping eyeshadow, winged eyeliner, or bright red lipstick. You can, however, wear a light layer of foundation and/or concealer to brighten up your face or hide blemishes.

So, if you want to cover a pimple or brighten up dark eyebags, feel free to wear a little makeup. Still, it’s a good idea to bring makeup remover during your session if your photographer deems your makeup too heavy.

Practice Posing

If you are very particular about how you look in photos, it helps to practice posing in a mirror. Find the right angle facing the camera and learn how to tilt your face forward to capture how you want your face to look.

Be Wary of Prohibited Attire

Wearing certain clothes or accessories can lead to a passport denial. Here’s a list of what you cannot wear when taking passport photos:

  • Any type of professional uniform
  • Earphones, earbuds, and other wireless devices
  • Hats and headgear that are not worn for medical or religious reasons, as well as headgear that cover your face
  • Sunglasses or tinted eyeglasses
  • Large hair accessories such as headbands, hair clips, bows, and scrunchies; stick to neutral-colored bobby pins to hold your hair in place

If you have eyesight problems, you can wear prescription glasses in your passport photo. Most people take off their glasses when taking passport photos, but if you wish to keep yours on, you can. Just make sure your eyes are clearly visible and there is no glare on the lenses. You can also wear contact lenses if they do not alter your natural eye color.

Where Can You Get Your Passport Photos Taken?

You can get your passport photo taken in pharmacies or general stores like Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart, or Henry’s. They can be quite expensive, though, ranging from $10 to $20 per session. If you want to know why passport photos are so expensive, we discuss this topic in detail in our blog.

But if you want to spend less on your passport photos and still get picture-perfect quality, the Photo Studio Calgary is here for you.

Capture The Perfect Passport Photos For Only $6.97 at Photo Studio Calgary

Our prices are cheaper than anywhere else. And yet, we still give you the high-quality, picture-perfect passport photo that you need. For just $6.97, you get 2 printed copies of 1 soft copy of your passport pictures. And being one of the photo studios in Calgary with the highest acceptance rates, you can rest assured that your passport application will be done in no time.

Simply book an appointment on our website through the ‘Book Appointment’ tab, select a date, and show up. The session lasts for only 10 minutes! As long as you’re in proper attire, we ensure that your photo follows all of the rules. There’s a reason we’re regarded as the best place to get passport photos in Calgary, NE – find out why for yourself.

And if you’re looking for photo restoration and photo printing, we offer those services as well–and at the right prices.