what to know when taking a passport photo

What To Know When Taking A Passport Photo

You may think that taking a passport photo is a pretty straightforward process, but you might be surprised at just how many rules there are to follow. The Canadian government is strict about the photos you submit with your passport application. Applicants must comply with every photo requirement as there is no leeway for anyone who fails to do so. If your photo doesn’t meet the Passport Program’s requirements, your application might get delayed–or worse, rejected.

Of course, a passport delay or rejection is the last thing you want for your travel plans. So, in this article, let’s dive into what to know when taking a passport photo.

What To Know When Taking A Passport Photo

If your application is complete and correct, the processing time for a Canadian passport is relatively quick. On average, it takes around 10 days to receive your passport if you apply in person. And it will take around 20 days if you mail your application or apply at a Service Canada receiving agent.

To ensure that your passport will arrive on schedule, here’s what to know when taking a passport photo:

Passport Photos Must Be Taken By a Professional Photographer

Thrifty applicants may ask, “can you take your own passport photos?” The answer is no. All passport photos must be taken in person by a commercial photographer at a professional studio.

Take note that your passport photos must also contain stamps or written information on the back with 1) the date the photo was taken, and 2) the name and complete address of the photo studio. Stickers will not be accepted.

Photos Must Be Taken Within The Last Six Months

Pretty self-explanatory. All passport photos must be taken within the last six months so that they represent an image of your current appearance. That old high-school yearbook photo won’t cut it, and neither will a wedding photo from years ago. If you recently died your hair, you’ll want to get fresh photos taken to accurately portray your appearance when you walk through customs.

You Must Submit Two Identical Photos

All applicants must submit two identical, unaltered passport photos with their application. The photos must be produced from one electronic image file or negative. The photographer will make sure that this requirement is met, but it won’t hurt to check once you receive your prints.

There Are Photo Size Requirements to Follow

Each passport photo must be 50 mm wide x 70 mm high (2 inches wide x 2 3/4 inches high) in size. The crown of your head down to your chin should measure about 31 mm (1 1/4 inches)-36 mm (1 7/16 inches). Moreover, your passport photos must be printed on high-quality photographic paper.

You Must Have a Neutral Facial Expression

Can you smile in a passport photo? No, and that includes Mona Lisa smiles. Your face should wear a neutral expression with your eyes open and mouth closed to represent your likeness as accurately as possible.

Framing is Important

Canada’s Passport Program also has specific rules about proper framing. Your face and shoulders must be facing the camera straight-on while centered and squared. More importantly, your background must be either plain white or a light color that clearly separates your face and clothing from the background.

No Sort of Altering is Not Allowed

It might be tempting to ask the photographer to get rid of blemishes or birthmarks, but doing so is not acceptable and can lead to rejection. Altering is defined as any manner that edits or changes the photo. That includes changing the eye shape, removing wrinkles, pasting the subject on a white background, changing the colors of clothing, and so on.

Basically, you are not allowed to edit your photo in any way. You must leave whatever the camera captures as it is.

There Are Exceptions For Certain Accessories

The Canadian government does not accept photos with sunglasses or tinted eyeglasses, headwear (except for that which is worn for medical or religious reasons), or outrageous jewelry or hair accessories.

You can, however, wear prescription eyeglasses as long as your eyes are clearly visible and there is no glare on the lenses. You can also wear hats or head coverings if they are for medical/religious reasons, but your full face must be clearly visible with no shadows. To be safe, don’t wear any accessories if they are unnecessary. This could mean taking off your jewelry, too.

You Can Wear Light Makeup

Yes, you can wear makeup in a passport photo, but don’t go overboard. Some light concealer to hide your eye bags or a bit of mascara is acceptable. If you are using foundation, however, be sure that the shade matches your natural skin tone accurately. Take note that another requirement of the Passport Program is that photos must represent natural skin tones.

We also discuss this in our previous article: what should a passport photo look like?

Hair Can Be Worn Up or Down

When it comes to hairstyles, the Passport Program allows applicants to wear their hair either up or down. However, your full face and ears must be clearly visible in the photo. So, if you have long hair, be sure to tuck it behind your ears when taking the photo. If you have bangs, use a neutral-colored hairpin to pin them back on the top of your head.

Passport Photos Taken Outside of Canada Must Follow The Same Rules

If your passport photos are taken abroad, they must comply with all the rules set by Canada’s Passport Program. Other countries may have different passport photo formats and sizes, so make sure that your photos follow Canada’s requirements.

You Cannot Wear Uniforms

This includes military uniforms, pilot uniforms, medical uniforms, or any other kind of professional uniform. Wear simple attire like a T-shirt or polo shirt with a light color. Avoid white shirts (wearing white can make you blend into the background), tube tops, sleeveless tops, and low-cut shirts as well.

Wrapping Up What To Know When Taking A Passport Photo

The most important thing to know when taking a passport photo? Not all passport photo services are created equal. For the best, stick with the best passport photo service in Calgary. We can get you the perfect passport photo for a speedy application–and for a fraction of the price!

Now that you know the requirements for Canada’s Passport Program, book an appointment with us today. Simply click ‘Book Appointment’, pick a schedule, and head our way. We’ll take care of the rest. Need photo printing or photo restoration while you’re at it? Photo Studio Calgary has got you covered! Reach out to us or stop by today.