Applying for a passport and getting all of the logistics figured out can feel quite tedious. It can also be a lengthy and expensive process depending on how you go about it. From filling out passport applications and collecting all of your documents to scheduling a passport photo, it can get overwhelming.
I get it — you just want to feel excited about an upcoming trip but the looming task of renewing or getting a new passport is intimidating.
Plus, if you’re anything like me, then you likely put this on the bottom of your to-do list, moving it lower on the list week after week. This can obviously put you in a bind and cause your travel plans to get derailed, or cancelled altogether.
Passport photos are certainly different from other pictures you take — there’s no posing and no editing photos in Lightroom. Plus, while you might know how to take good pictures of yourself, the person in charge of your passport photo isn’t going to care too much about how it turns out.
To help you prep for your next getaway, I’m sharing a roundup of exactly what to wear for a passport photo. This will help you nail down all of the rules you need to be aware of. And will help you feel confident before going to your passport photo appointment.
The good news is that once you get this checked off your list, you won’t have to do it again for another ten years. Vacation here you come!
What To Wear For a Passport Photo
Keep in mind that your passport picture will be taken against a white background. So it’s a smart idea to wear a darker color. If you wear a color that’s too light, then your photo may be rejected and you’ll have to go through this process all over again.
Colors like black, navy, brown, and deep shades of green or blue should all be safe bets.
It’s best to keep your passport photo outfit as basic as possible. Meaning, you might want to save that printed blouse for a night out with friends. Some prints can be distracting in photos so be sure to choose something that’s not too busy.
A High Neckline
If you’re taking your passport photo during a warm weather season, you might be tempted to wear an off-the-shoulder top. However, I’d highly recommend avoiding anything that doesn’t cover your shoulders or anything that’s super low cut, like a tank top.
Passport photos are cropped just underneath your shoulders. So if you wear a shirt that’s lower than that, it might look a little…funny.
A lot of people are confused on whether or not you can wear jewelry for a passport photo. But somewhat surprisingly, you can. As long as the jewelry you’re wearing isn’t excessive or doesn’t interfere with a clear view of your face, it’s allowed.
With that in mind, I’d recommend keeping your jewelry minimal to avoid any issues. Stick with a pair of your go-to studs and a dainty necklace rather than dangly earrings and a thick statement necklace.
What To Not Wear For a Passport Photo
The rules of what not to wear for a passport photo are pretty straightforward (and seem like no-brainers). However, it’s good info to note in case this is your first time taking a passport photo. Here’s what you can’t wear:
You cannot wear glasses in your passport photo, meaning that both sunglasses and eyeglasses are a no-go. If you can’t take your glasses off for medical reasons, you’ll need to get a signed doctor’s note to excuse you from this rule.
Passport photo appointments are not the place to wear a uniform, or anything that looks like a uniform for that matter. Even if you wear a uniform for work, you’ll be asked to reschedule if your attire isn’t up to par. If you’re coming from work then simply pack a different outfit that you can change into before your picture.
Also, I’m sure you wouldn’t show up for your photo wearing camouflage (lol imagine), but that’s also a major no.
Hats or Head Coverings
Sun hats and baseball caps are definitely cute (and crucial for sun protection!) but you certainly can’t wear either for a passport photo. The same goes for hair accessories, like headbands or scarves. According to the State Department’s website, if you wear a hat or head covering for religious reasons, you’ll need to get a signed statement verifying that it is “part of traditional religious attire worn continuously in public.”
A similar rule is in effect for those who wear a hat or head covering for medical reasons. You can submit a signed doctor’s note that confirms that the hat is worn daily for medical purposes.
Headphones or AirPods
I know we’re all uber-connected to our devices these days. But you’re going to have to take off your headphones or remove your AirPods when it’s time to say cheese.
Other than avoiding this short list of items, it doesn’t really matter what you wear on your photo day. As long as your full face is visible and there aren’t any funky shadows cast by your allowed hat or head covering, you should be set!
Passport Photo Outfits
Since your passport photo will only show your shoulders and above, what you wear below that area isn’t a biggie. You can wear whatever bottoms and shoes are the most comfortable, but any of these outfit ideas would pair well with jeans.
For a more professional look, throw a blazer over a dark colored top. This is an especially strong passport photo outfit if you frequently travel for business. You can add some small gold hoops or a thin necklace to give your outfit some more personality.
You really can’t go wrong with a sweater. It’s a timeless look that you won’t get sick of in five years — which is important considering that your passport photo stays with you for a long time.
A Basic Blouse or T-Shirt
Go with a classic look for your photo by wearing a button-up shirt or basic black tee. To avoid going against the U.S. passport photo requirements, make sure your shirt is a dark enough color. Also, be sure to wear a shirt that has a high enough neckline so it doesn’t get cropped out.
Now that you know exactly what to wear for a passport photo and what to avoid, you’ll be photo-ready (and vacation-ready!) in no time. I know that getting a passport can certainly be a pain, but the memories you’ll make while traveling will be well worth the hassle.