Make Your Own Passport Photos for Free

John P.

Passport PhotosThe other day I went into a Post Office in Houston with a friend and there was an unbelievable line for people waiting to get their passport photos taken. I’m talking at least 40-50 people.

It reminded me that the government does allow us to submit digitally created photos so long as they meet the normal specifications. Here is how you can create your own using nothing more than your digital camera.

First you need to be familiar with regulation DS-11 for US Passports:

  • Submit two color photographs of you alone, sufficiently recent to be a good likeness of you (normally taken within the last six months), and 2×2 inches in size.
  • The image size measured from the bottom of your chin to the top of your head (including hair) should not be less than 1 inch and not more than 1 3/8 inches.
  • The photographs must be color, clear, with full front view of your face, and printed on thin paper with plain light (white or off-white) background.
  • They must be capable of withstanding a mounting temperature of 225°F (107 °C).
  • Photographs must be taken in normal street attire, without a hat, head covering, or dark glasses unless a signed statement is submitted by the applicant verifying the item is worn daily for religious purposes or a signed doctor’s statement is submitted verifying the item is used daily for medical purposes.
  • Photographs retouched so that your appearance is changed are unacceptable.
  • Snapshots, most vending machine prints, and magazine or full-length photographs are unacceptable.
  • Digitized photos must meet the previously stated qualifications and will be accepted for use at the discretion of Passport Services.

Visit our website for details.

Next, you need to take a photo of just your face and shoulders with a neutral white background behind you. A white or off-white wall should suffice. Keep the following in mind:

  • Look straight into the camera
  • Eyes shouldn’t be tilted or closed
  • Avoid flash reflection on skin or red-eye effect
  • Make sure eye-glasses don’t cover the eyes
  • Have a neutral expression
  • Face shouldn’t be covered – also avoid hats or caps or hair across the face
  • Avoid shadows behind head or across the face

Here is a page with sample photos and a complete list of recommendations, and here is the US Government’s composition checklist.

Once you’ve got your digital photo, upload it to You will then be able to crop the image if necessary.

When you are done the site will create a 4″x6″ image for you to print which will contain 6 properly sized passport photos. At this point you must do the following:

  1. Passport DimensionsPrint a test print and use a ruler to measure the distance from your chin to the top of your head. This must be between 1″ and 1 3/8″. If it is any bigger or smaller you need to go back to ePassportPhoto and try again, adjusting your cropping as necessary.
  2. If you have a good color printer, print the image on high quality glossy photo paper. Do not use normal printer paper as it will not meet the minimum requirements.
  3. Alternatively you can upload the photo to be printed at and pick it up at your local store.

Not only will this process save you a few bucks, it will save you the time and hassle of standing in line somewhere to get it done and it will allow you to redo your photo as many times as you like until you get it just the way you want it. After all, this photo is going to last for 15 years!



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