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5 Easy Ways to Take a Passport Photo

If you’ve ever had to take a passport photo, you know it’s not always easy. There are strict requirements that these pictures must follow.

Passport photos are so crucial that your entire application will be rejected if you don’t follow the guidelines. Considering the whole process can take eight to ten weeks, it’s not a mistake you want to make.

Luckily, we’ve found five easy ways to take your passport photo.

Let’s check it out!

What Are Passports? 

Passports are government-issued documents issued to citizens. They contain a person’s name, photograph, date of birth, nationality, and other identifiable information. A passport makes it easier for travelers to come and go from many foreign countries.

If you enjoy traveling, it’s a good idea to have one. While you won’t need it for domestic flights, just about every foreign country requires tourists to have them. However, you may need additional documents or permits depending on where you’re visiting.

Since passports are typically valid for five to ten years, checking the expiration date is essential. Some countries require a minimum of six months left before a passport expires to visit their country. If not, the government could refuse your entry, which would be a costly and unfortunate mistake.

Pro Tip: Use our guide on How to Easily Renew Your Passport to make the process painless.

Are There Passport Photo Requirements?  

Taking a passport photo can be tricky as the requirements are strict. If you want to avoid having your photograph rejected, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the rules.

A few basic requirements are that the picture must be in color, taken within six months, and has a clear image of your face. Save those fancy filters for your social media posts; they’ll get your photograph instantly rejected.

You must take off your glasses and make sure there are no shadows in your picture. While you may have a beautiful mountain backdrop that you love, the Department of State won’t. Use a white or off-white background free of textures or lines to avoid having your photo rejected.

Also, you must stare directly into the camera while someone takes your photo. Your eyes must be visible, and you must not wear any hats or head coverings unless they’re for religious or medical purposes. Also, avoid any exaggerated or unnatural expressions.

As you can see, taking your passport photo is no walk in the park. If you’re not careful or don’t research, you could have a significant delay in processing your application.

Happy woman with USA passport
Before you get your passport photo taken, make sure you know the requirements you must follow before you strike your pose.

5 Easy Ways to Get a Passport Photo 

Thankfully we live in a time where technology advances incredibly fast. Let’s look at five easy ways to get a passport photo to start seeing the world.

#1 Take Your Own Passport Photo

The easiest way to take your passport photo is to do it yourself. By doing it yourself, you don’t have to worry about paying a company or scheduling an appointment. You can save time and money by going this route.

While you might think you need a fancy camera for such an important picture, that’s not the case. Most modern smartphones come with high-quality cameras that can get the job done. You’ll need a white background, a well-lit area, and a friend to snap the photo.

Take your time to make sure you get a picture that you like. You’ll be using it for many adventures over the next decade.

#2 Go to a Shipping Center

You may not know it, but UPS, FedEx, and other popular shipping centers offer passport photo services. They typically have everything already set up and ready to go. The entire process normally takes 15 or so minutes and costs around $15.

Some locations require you to schedule an appointment, and others may be willing to accept walk-ins. Since not every shipping center location offers these services, it’s a good idea to call ahead to confirm availability.

Get answers to any questions you might have when you call. You need to know if there are any specific forms or documents that you need to bring with you. This can make the entire process as smooth as possible.

Traveling with American passport
There are many places you can get your passport photo taken at.

#3 Try a Local Pharmacy

Your local pharmacy offers more than bandages and prescriptions. Many corporate pharmacy stores provide passport photo services in their photography department. With more than 20,000 Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS locations in the United States, you should be able to find a place to get your picture taken quickly.

Unfortunately, not every location offers this service. It’s a good idea to call ahead or inquire about the service the next time you’re picking up your prescription.

Locations like Walgreens and CVS typically charge around $15 for the service. However, Rite Aid offers a more budget-friendly option, normally less than $10. 

Regardless of your local pharmacy, the process will likely be quick and easy. 

#4 Membership Clubs

Membership clubs like Sam’s Club and AAA have many benefits. One benefit that many members don’t realize is that they offer passport services. If you’re already a member of these clubs, it might be worth considering them for your photo needs.

Sam’s Club typically offers one of the cheapest options of all places to have your passport photo taken. They generally cost around $5 for two pictures. The next time you’re in one of their 600 locations, stop by and see if they can snap your photo.

AAA is another membership club that can take passport photos. However, the service isn’t just for members. Their services typically cost around $15, but members receive a discount. You get a free set each year if you’re a PLUS-level AAA member.

#5 The Post Office

While you may only visit the United States Postal Service (USPS) to buy stamps or drop off a letter, that’s not all they do. Many of their facilities have the necessary equipment and expertise to take passport photos.

Since the USPS also is an application acceptance facility, this is a great place to go if you need your passport quickly. You most likely won’t be their first passport applicant, and they’ll know what you need to submit.

Costs for having your picture taken at a USPS facility are typically around $15. However, you’ll want to check with your local post office to confirm costs and see if you need to schedule an appointment.

Avoid highly edited photos when taking your passport photo.

Where Not to Get a Passport Photo 

As you can see, you need to be when choosing your picture. The requirements for passport photos are strict, and failing to follow them can cause significant delays in your application.

Using photo booths, old social media pictures, and selfies are all bad ideas. Photos must be recent, unedited, and high-quality. If not, they’ll likely instantly get rejected, and you’ll need to start from scratch.

If you’re under the gun for time, delays in processing your passport can be frustrating. Do yourself a favor and submit the best possible picture the first time.

Pro Tip: You’ll want to make sure you have these 3 Documents All Drivers Must Have, Legally on you while on the road.


Thankfully, getting your passport photo can be a straightforward process these days. There are plenty of places that can help ensure your picture meets federal requirements. You can even do it yourself with the right equipment. Finally, the process doesn’t have to be frustrating or stressful. Modern technology takes the guesswork out of getting passport photos.

Once you submit your picture with your application, you’ll be traveling the world before you know it.

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