what should a passport photo look like

What Should a Passport Photo Look Like?

Passport photo rules vary by the country’s laws and requirements. For example, in Canada, you are not allowed to take your own passport photo or have it taken at a local drug store. While in many other countries like the US, there are websites and random places you can go. This can change how the passport photo will look.

Canada’s passport agency requires that all passport photos are taken within the last six months of submitting an application. This is to reflect your current appearance, so if something drastic has changed, it’s best to take a new photo that shows how you look today.

In Canada, there is also a no-smile rule for photos. If a passport photo is submitted with the person smiling, then it will be denied. There are other various requirements that you should know so you can submit an acceptable passport photo and get approved in no time.

Passport Photo Requirements

The following are some of the basic passport photos guidelines in Canada:

  • Photo must be taken by a commercial photographer or at a photo studio
  • Plain white or off-white background
  • Shoulders and face are centered
  • No smiling
  • Eyes open and completely visible
  • Lighting must reflect true skin tone
  • No glare or shadows on your face
  • Eye glasses may be worn, but can’t cause glare or cover your eyes
  • Hats and head coverings are not allowed (unless it’s a head covering for religious or medical reasons)
  • No photo alterations of any kind

Unlike the US or other countries, you cannot take your own photo for a passport application. In Canada, it must be done by a professional and they need to stamp it with the date, location, and name of the studio. This should take care of typical photo problems like red-eye, glare, and shadows. If your photographer takes a photo where any of these appear, please let them know that this will not be approved by the Government of Canada.

The only thing you should worry about is making sure your pose is correct and that you are comfortable. Face forward towards the camera with your shoulder squared and keep a neutral expression. You can’t wear tinted eyeglasses, sunglasses, or any headwear that isn’t for religious or medical purposes. So make sure to leave those items at home when it’s picture day.

How Do I Know if My Passport Photo is Acceptable?

Considering that the Government of Canada only accepts passport photos from professionals, they will take a look at your photo and ask you to take it again if anything is wrong. They are required to know the requirements and will have you make any adjustments to your pose if they notice something is off.

The basic guidelines include no smiling, stay centered in the photo, and pose in front of a plain white background. Once your photo is taken if it’s printed on high-quality photographic paper at 50 mm wide X 70 mm high, then you are all set!

What Colour Should Passport Photos Be?

Canada accepts black and white passport photos or ones in colour. If they are in colour, there must be no red-eye effect or any alterations made to get rid of the red-eye effect. Only the true colour of your hair, skin, and clothing should show. Do not edit the photo to show any other colour or to enhance it.

Tips on How to Take a Great Passport Photo

Pick the Right Shirt

Since the background will be white or light, you do not want to wear a white shirt. You can blend in and end up looking like a floating head. It’s also best to avoid tube tops or low-cut shirts. The photo is only the top of your shoulder and face, so it can look like you are topless in the photo.

Make sure that you pick a shirt that you are comfortable with wearing. It’s a photo that will be shown anytime you travel and can be used for business reasons. You don’t want to feel awkward while taking this photo because you will end up looking awkward as well. Wear something that makes you feel confident and secure.

Choose a Hairstyle you Feel Comfortable With

The Government of Canada allows citizens to wear their hair up or down in their photos. So it’s best to do whatever you feel comfortable with, but it should not cover your facial features. For example, full fringe bangs that cover part of your eyes are not acceptable.

If you have long hair and wear it down, you’ll most likely need to place your hair behind your ears so the photographer can see your full face. Overall, choose a style that you like, but will not hide your face.

Consider Wearing a Little More Makeup

Whether you wear makeup every day or never, it may be nice to wear a little more for your passport photo. While you shouldn’t try to change your appearance, you may feel more comfortable applying a little concealer or putting on some powder.

The camera and lighting will show everything on your face, and if that scares you, applying makeup can fix it. Whether it’s a zit or dark under eyes, it’s nothing a little concealer can’t fix. When the time comes to get a passport photo in Calgary – head our way!