What You Should Wear To Ensure Your Passport Photo Is Accepted

Whether you're getting your first passport or renewing for the seventh time, a large part of the process is taking a photo that will meet the requirements. Fees to renew or get a new passport are over $120, so you'll want to avoid making any expensive mistakes that could cause your application to be rejected. Unlike in the past, you don't need to go to a photo booth or passport photo provider to get photos for your document; you can take the photo at home on your cell as long as it conforms to requirements.

The U.S. Department of State lists the general rules for passport photos, including what the background should look like, whether you can smile, and how old the photo can be. (Sadly, you can't submit a five-year-old photo of yourself looking a little younger and fresher.) There are a few strict rules about what you cannot wear for your passport photo, too.

What not to wear in your passport photo

Let's start with the don'ts. Bear in mind that most of these rules are in place because your full face must be visible in passport photos with no shadows obscuring it. You must not wear hats or head coverings in passport photos unless they are for religious or medical purposes. If either of those exceptions applies to you, you need to submit a signed statement verifying that. You also may not wear eyeglasses, so take them off for your passport photo. If you are unable to take them off for medical reasons, you must submit a statement from a medical professional.

You need to remove headphones or earbuds when having your photo taken too. And finally, for the prohibitions, you cannot wear a uniform or anything that looks like a uniform, or camouflage clothing. Those are all of the absolute no-nos listed on the U.S. Department of State website.

How to dress for your passport photo

Now, we've covered what you can't wear, here are some tips on how to dress for your passport photo. The only recommendation on the U.S. Department of State website is that you should wear clothing that is worn on a daily basis. So no fancy dress costumes allowed. You can wear jewelry and keep face piercings in as long as they don't obscure your face. Permanent tattoos can also be visible.

We recommend wearing a dark-colored shirt, T-shirt, or dress with a high neck (not a turtleneck, as it's best to have your neck visible.) If you wear a shirt with a low neck or a tank top, you can end up looking naked in your photo, which probably isn't the look you want to go for. Darker colors have better contrast against the white background used for passport photos. You can wear patterned tops—as long as they're not camouflage—but solid colors tend to look better in photos. You can't go wrong with a round-neck black T-shirt. You can wear whatever you want on your bottom half, though. A passport photo is like a video call: business on the top, party (or pajamas) on the bottom.