Check Your Passport

Passports and Passport Photos

by Wendy VanHatten

As 2016 comes to a close and you start thinking about trips you want to take in 2017, take a few minutes to check your passport. Even if you’re not immediately planning a trip outside the US, it’s still a good idea to take a look.


Every September, the State Department conducts a national public awareness campaign to capture the attention of an increasingly mobile U.S. population. This year they focused on the quality of passport photos applicants submit.

Poor quality photos are the number one reason passport applications are delayed. In 2015, more than 200,000 passport applications were delayed for inadequate photos. When Passport Services receives a poor quality photo on a passport application, the State Department must notify applicants and require a new photo be submitted by mail. Passport applications submitted with photos that do not meet photo requirements often delay an application and can interfere with travel plans.

How do you avoid these delays? Here are the top five reasons passport photos are rejected and suggestions on how they can easily be prevented:A glare appears on eyeglasses .

  1. Glasses should be removed for a photo. Beginning on November 1, 2016 eye glasses will no longer be allowed in passport photos. Keep this in mind if you are getting your passport renewed or getting your first one between now and then. Good idea to remove your glasses.

2. The photo is either too light or too dark– The tone of your photo must be clear to reflect true skin tone.

3. An old photo is submitted – Your photo must have been taken within six months of submitting a passport application.

4. The head size is unsuitable– Photos taken too close or too far away will be rejected.

5. The quality of the image or paper is poor– Photos are often blurry, grainy, pixelated, or printed on the wrong paper. Your photos should always be clear and as high resolution as possible.

If you are thinking about applying for a passport in the near future, you should know the Department of State expects record high passport demand in 2016-2018. In order to avoid a delay in the processing of your passport application, it is important that the photo you include meets all requirements.

For More Information:

Visit Travel.State.Gov/Pictureperfect for more about the campaign and our top photo problems.

Call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 or visit Travel.State.Gov for information on passport forms and fees.


About Wendy VanHatten

Wendy VanHatten is editor-in-chief for Prime Time Living, a published author, international travel writer, wine, food, and travel editor, and professional editor.