How to take a digital passport photo

Warning If your photo doesn’t meet the rules you may have problems with your application or when you travel.

Photos for adults

Use a plain light-coloured background

  • no texture or patterns
  • no objects behind you

Even lighting and no shadows

  • balanced light - no shadows on your face or behind you
  • it’s best to use natural sunlight, for example facing a window

Stand in the right position

  • stand 0.5 metres (1.5 feet) away from your background (this reduces shadow)
  • the person taking the photo should stand 1.5 metres (5 feet) from you
  • include your head, shoulders and upper body in the photo
  • don’t crop your photo - it will be done for you

Plain expression and face in full view

  • face front on to the camera
  • don’t smile or frown - eyes open and mouth closed
  • your photo should be a good likeness and taken in the last month

No headwear

  • unless it’s for religious or medical reasons

Eyes fully visible

  • hair away from your face and eyes
  • take your glasses off (if you can)

If you need to keep glasses on:

  • your eyes must be visible without any glare or reflections
  • no sunglasses or tinted glasses

Watch ‘How to take a digital passport photo’

View transcript

You can now take your passport photo at home with a friend.

It’s quick and easy, giving you more time to get ready for your travels.

Use a plain background

A light grey or cream wall works best and make sure there are no objects behind you.

Get the lighting right

Natural light is best but you can use other lighting. Just make sure the light doesn’t cast shadows on your face.

Stand in the right position

You need to stand away from the background to avoid shadows behind you. Your friend needs to be able to fit your head, shoulders and upper body into the photo.

Keep your face clear

Make sure your whole face is visible. Keep your hair away from your face and brushed down. Headwear worn for religious or medical reasons can be left on.

Now get ready

Look straight at the camera and try to keep a plain expression. Smiling by accident is a common mistake, others include: hair getting in the way, shadows on your face, glasses covering eyes, glare on glasses and blurry photos. Don’t worry if it takes a few goes to get it right.

When you get a good photo upload it online and complete your application. Now relax and get planning for your travels.

For more on UK passports go to

I can’t meet the photo rules
You can still use a photo if you can’t meet the photo rules because of a religious or medical reason. We’ll ask you to explain the circumstances when you submit your photo.

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