What to Wear for a Passport Photo

Get a result you'll love for the next decade.

Women wearing blue button-down blouses and jeans on a white background

@universalstandard

If we've been feeling anything after years of pandemic precautions, it’s been an overwhelming urge to travel. With travel bans lifted, it’s finally time to book that ticket to the destination abroad you’ve been itching to visit. First, though, you may want to check if it’s time to renew your passport—or maybe it's even your first time applying for one.

While getting your paperwork in line and your appointments scheduled should be your number one priority, another aspect worth considering is what to wear in your passport photo. While it may seem like an uncomplicated task, there are a few things you should keep in mind, especially since the photo will last for the next ten years. 

While you'll want to start by checking out the U.S. Department of State's official set of rules, we’ve also put together a few additional tips to consider when picking out what to wear in your passport photo. Keep reading to see them all and increase your chances of taking a photo you'll feel good about using for the next decade.

Choose Darker Colors

Matilda Djerf wears a black collared short-sleeved shirt with V neck

@djerfavenue

Generally, the backdrop for passport photos will be either white or light gray, so choose a darker colored top to contrast the background of your photo. A white blouse with a white background will most likely get rejected, so your best bet is to stay away from light colors. Shades like black, dark blue, and brown are all safe options for your top, but you can also get away with wearing a brighter color so long as it’s not overly distracting.

Avoid Wild Prints

Model wears a neutral black sweater and light wash jeans

@everlane

Speaking of distracting, your passport photo is not the time to make a bold fashion statement. While most of your shirt will be cut off, even a bit of a bold print can be distracting in your photo. Also, keep in mind your passport photo is going to stick with you for a while, so something you think is incredibly chic right now may turn into a major cringe moment in a few years.

Most passports are valid for 10 years, so keep in mind that what you wear for the photo might not be as trendy in a decade. (In other words, go for something that feels classic.)

Accessorize with Timeless Jewelry

Woman wearing minimalist pearl and gold necklaces and rings

@mejuri

When it comes to accessories, jewelry is okay to wear in your passport photo, but we suggest sticking to classic pieces such as a pair of studs or a simple necklace. Dangling earrings or a chunky necklace are distracting to your photo.

Skip the Athleisure

Model wears black turtleneck and simple black pants

@reona

While you don’t need to get dressed in business attire for your passport photo, you may want to pass on the “just rolled out of bed” look. The reason? If you're hired for a new job, your passport photo may be used for your identification, especially if you’re starting a new position abroad. So even though we otherwise always advocate for a good athleisure look, we suggest opting for a simple sweater or a basic blouse. At the same time, your passport photo only focuses on the top half of your body, so feel free to go casual on the bottom with a pair of leggings if you'd like.

Consider Your Neckline

Woman wears navy blazer and light blue turtleneck

@universalstandard

If you’re contemplating which shirt to wear in your passport photo, try to stay away from off-the-shoulder or boat-neck tops. Passport photos are usually cropped from the shoulders up, so wearing a shirt that falls below the shoulders may make it look like you're not wearing a shirt in the picture, which is not exactly the most ideal situation. If you’re not sure your shirt will work, take a close-up practice photo beforehand and crop it into a 1:1 square. This should be a good indicator of how your top will look in the final product.

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