Planning your first trip out of the country? Lost your passport? Need to get a passport for the kids?
There are a variety of scenarios where you will need a passport and, if you are like me, you didn’t plan very well in advance, so you are going to need it fast. The first thing you will need to start the process is getting your passport photo taken. Here is everything you will need to know:
U.S. Passport Photo Requirements:
You will have to provide 1 photo will your passport application
- It should be Printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper
- Proper Size of the passport photo
- 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size
- Size of head must be between 1 -1 3/8 inches (25 – 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
- You can View the Government Photo Composition Template for more size requirement details.
- It has to be recent, i.e. taken in the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
- You cannot wear glasses
- If you cannot remove your glasses for medical reasons, you will have to include a signed note from your doctor with your application.
- The background must be plain white or off-white
- Your head must be directly facing the camera with your full face in view (Double check this one – my son's passport photo was rejected at the passport office because he had a slight tilt to his head. Make sure your head is straight and you are looking directly at the camera!)
- Your facial expression should be neutral or with a natural smile, and both eyes need to be open
- In color – no black and white photos
- Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis
- No hats or head coverings, unless you wear it daily for religious purposes. Your full face must be visible and your head covering cannot cast shadows on your face.
- No headphones or wireless hands-free devices.
- No Selfies
Where can I get Passport Photos? / Passport Photo Locations:
You can either take the photo yourself, based on the requirements mentioned above or you can go to one of many retail locations that provide passport photo services. Some of the most popular (in the U.S.) are:
- Pharmacies and Drug Stores like Walgreens and CVS
- Shipping Stores like UPS and FedEx
- Warehouse Membership Clubs like Costco and Sam’s
- USPS (United States Postal Service) – some locations
Walgreens Passport Photos
Walgreens has a passport photo service that provides government compliant ID photos. They typically will cost around $13.99 for two photos and will be available to you in one hour or less.
Walgreens Passport Photo Coupons are often available on the Walgreens Deals Page
You can find a Walgreens that has photo services here
CVS Passport Photos
CVS has photo technicians that are trained to provide you with passport, picture ID, green card and US Dept. photos that adhere to government regulations. They typically cost around $12.99
CVS often offers $2 off Passport Photo Coupons
You can find a CVS that has photo services here
Rite Aid Passport Photos
Rite Aid does not have professionals that will take you photo and they no longer have an on line photo service, but some locations will print a 2×2 photo that you have taken yourself. Call first before going to a Rite Aid to print the photo, to make sure they can print a 2×2 ID photo.
UPS Passport Photo
UPS has over 4,500 locations worldwide and currently 600 of them provide passport photo services. You will need to schedule an online appointment in advance. Their passport photos come in sets of two with the first set priced at $12.99
FedEx Office Passport Photo
FedEx offers passport, visa or ID photos at locations nationwide. Fedex claims they will take your photo, let you review it and take as many as you need to “get it right” at no additional charge. That said, the guy taking your photo is probably not up to speed on this, so make sure you get the picture you want, otherwise, they will just take the first picture and go with it.
FedEx does not publish their pricing, but they will cost you somewhere between $14 and $18. When I used this service they were $15.99 each.
You can find a FedEx location that has photo services here
Costco Passport Photo
If you are a Costco member, you can get photos a lot cheaper than some of the other retail locations. Costco provide Passport, Permanent Resident and Citizenship Photos for only $4.99
You can find a Costco location that has photo services here
Sam’s Club Passport Photo
Never wanting to be outdone by Costco, Sam’s provides 1-hour passport photos for 3 cents less than Costco at $4.96
You can find a Sam’s location that has photo services here
USPS (U.S. Postal Service) Passport Photos
Some US Postal Service locations will offer passport photo services for $15. However, there are limited locations that provide this service so call your local USPS location first. Once you have your passport photo taken, this is where you will ultimately want to go to submit your passport application (which will typically take 4-5 weeks to process, unless you want to pay an expedited passport fee)
Passport Photo Apps for iPhone and Android
There are also a fairly large variety of passport photo apps available for your iPhone or Android device. One of the more popular ones is Passport Photo Booth, which is Free and gives you the option of either having the photo printed cheaply at a local drugstore or pharmacy ($0.50 or less) or the maker of the app will provide professional prints shipped for only $5
So….…Where is the best place to get your Passport Photo Taken?
- If you have a membership, Sam’s and Costco are probably the best options. They are cheap and generally provided in less than 1 hour.
- If you don’t have a Warehouse club near you, then CVS will be the next most cost effective option with a ton of locations to serve you.
- Walgreens, Fedex and UPS are essentially a wash
- Finally, for the truly frugal, do-it-yourselfer, you can get the free Passport app and have it printed out at your local drugstore for less 50 cents. But if you screw it up and don’t adhere to the passport photo requirements, this could put a huge monkey wrench into the amount of time it actually takes to get your passport because it may get rejected.
Now that you have your passport photo – here is everything else you will need to know about getting a passport.