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I want to take a passport photo by myself but I do not know what I should pay attention to. Where can I find the formal requirements for a passport photo?

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Can I take passport photo by myself?

There are several very specific requirements¹ for passport photos. Who takes the photo is not included in the list of requirements.

What should I pay attention when I trim the photo?

You should pay attention to the requirements listed by the state department or other equivalent governmental authority for the country in which you wish to have the passport issued.

In the United states, the size of the photo must be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm). The head must be between 1 -1 3/8 inches (25 - 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head on the surface of the 2 x 2 inch (51 x 51 mm) photo.

¹ The link is for the requirements for passports issued by the United States of America. The requirements in other countries are similar, but may vary in regards to the exact dimensions.

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Since you haven't specified which country's requirements you need, the best anyone can do is point you at the ICAO guidelines, which are likely to be incorporated in the requirements of countries which care about their passports being accepted by other countries. However, the requirements of your country may be more stringent. For example, the UK requires (among others, quoting from a PDF which is sent after you pay for an online application):

Photo size must

  • be 45 millimetres high x 35 millimetres wide, the standard size used in photo booths in the UK (if you are outside the UK not all photo booths use this standard size), and
  • not be trimmed or cut down from a larger photograph to the size of a standard passport photograph.
  • How would anyone know whether a photo was cut from a larger photo? Considering that tools to cut passport-sized photos are widely available, that seems like a requirement that'd be hard to enforce. – Caleb Jun 7 '18 at 15:22
  • @Caleb, speculation in the linked travel.SE thread the is that they would cite that rule to disqualify a photo which has obviously been cropped down from a family snap, but it's not clear. – Peter Taylor Jun 7 '18 at 16:02
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There are several guides on how to accomplish this task. How to take your own passport photos by CNET is an excellent resource including video and a link to the US state department's editing tool.

Be sure to substitute your own country's passport photo requirements for whatever advice you are given. In particular, check whether your country allows glasses and whether the required size is in inches or millimeters.

If your passport authority requires physical prints rather than an online submission, you must make sure they are the right size and shape:

  1. Don't trim your photos with scissors. The corners will not be square. Use a photo trimmer instead. A cheap one can be had at your local mega store or from a large online retailer named after a river for about $10.
  2. Make sure your photo is the right size. If you have photoshop, I suggest you size your image using the image size tool then grow the canvas size to 4x6 in order to have a 4x6 print made by your preferred printing service. To be sure that stretching and fitting don't ruin your sizing, try printing 4-6 images of differing sizes (such as 80%, 90%, 100%, 110%, and 120%) also remember that you can fit two or more passport photos on one 4x6 print.
  • FWIW I've made passport photos for several friends as well as myself (self portrait using a remote release.) The photos have been accepted by the US state department for passports as well as for Chinese, Russian, and UK visas. The hardest part was finding an evenly illuminated spot with a white background. Give yourself time to experiment and you should have no problem producing a professional looking photo – PhotoScientist Jun 8 '18 at 14:08

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