Shadows on passport photos – what exactly are the rules?

You’ll come across a point on shadows when reading up on the rules surrounding passport photos. This might have you questioning whether your picture meets all the criteria – and as a result, you might be worried about whether your photo will cause your passport application to be rejected. There are, however, more to the rules than explained on the official government website. With this in mind, here’s what you need to know about shadows on your passport photo.

What is the rule?

The passport guidelines state that you must ‘not have any shadows on your face or behind you’ on your passport photo. This rule is in place to ensure that you do not accidentally obscure any of your facial features. After all, if this happened the biometric software used at airports might not be able to get a decent reading of your face. This could cause delays when you’re entering different countries.

So shadows are a no go?

There is actually one exception when it comes to shadows on your passport photos. This is that your ears are allowed to cause small shadows, though – more often than not – these won’t be cast on your face. Passport officials are allowed to accept pictures when there are shadows caused by the ears ‘as long as there is a clear definition between the face and the background’.

What can you do?

You’ll really need to focus on the lighting around you when posing for your passport photo. This can take a certain level of precision because you will need to find a balance between standing in a well-lit area and not allowing the lights to create any shadows other than the ones cast by your ears.

Are you still unsure?

Admittedly, the passport photo guidelines can cause a degree of confusion. You don’t, however, need to suffer alone. Instead, you can enlist the services of Paspic. Just send us your photo once you’ve taken it and we’ll give you the thumbs up that it meets all the criteria and will be accepted. In addition, we’ll also send you the hard copies in the post in case you’re submitting a paper application and won’t be using digital passport photos.

Do I need to remove my facial piercings for my passport photo?

In the UK, roughly 10% of people have at least one body piercing in a place other than their earlobes. This poses a dilemma for people when they come to take their passport photo. You’re right to wonder whether you should – or indeed, need to – remove any facial piercings before posing for the picture. Let’s look at what you need to know to ensure that you can successfully complete your passport application.

Are facial piercings allowed?

Generally, yes. The guidelines state that body piercings such as lip rings, eyebrow piercings, nose studs or small rings should not be the sole reason why a passport picture is rejected. You are, therefore, allowed to keep the piercings in as long as they don’t cause any other rules to be breached.

When aren’t piercings allowed?

You can expect your passport picture to be rejected if you leave in your piercings even though they are large and obstructive. In particular, it’s outlined that your piercings must not make it difficult for an official to be able to see the outline of your eyes, mouth, nose, chin or cheekbones.

Is there anything else?

The guidelines also state that in ‘extreme cases’ (essentially when a person has a large number of piercings), the photo should be rejected. This will be a judgement call made on a case by case basis, so there is no exact amount of piercings that will officially mean your passport photo will be rejected.

Is it worth taking the piercings out?

Ultimately, it’s your decision and whether you take them out will depend on how you feel without them and whether it’s convenient to do so. If you do decide to leave your piercings in then you should make sure that they don’t reflect any light when you take the photo because this will also invalidate your passport picture.

Don’t forget Paspic!

There are so many rules to remember ahead of taking your passport photo that it’s always safer to send the image through to the team at Paspic. We’ll give you the assurance that the photo meets the guidelines before you submit your application, as well as post you two hard copies for those who aren’t submitting a digital passport photo.

Photo: by rafael-castillo licensed under Creative commons 4

I have a bruise on my face – can I still submit a passport photo?

It’s not an ideal situation to have to take a passport photo when you’re currently sporting a bruise on your face. Unfortunately, this can’t be helped in certain situations. Those who need a passport as soon as possible might not have the luxury to wait until the bruising subsides, meaning they have no option but to pose for their passport picture with the injury on show. The question is: will your passport photo be rejected if you have a bruise on your face? This is what you need to be aware of as you submit your passport application.

Can you have a bruise on your picture?

Yes – but there will be strings attached. The official who assesses your passport photo does have the ability to approve it. However, this will only happen if your trip is in the immediate future. This is because a bruise is not a permanent feature on your face and, therefore, should mean the picture is rejected. The only way that the picture will be accepted is if there is a case note to show that ‘the photo has been accepted to facilitate urgent travel’.

What happens from there?

You’ll only really be able to use the passport on your upcoming trip. After that, it will have to be replaced at your own cost as soon as possible. If you try to use your passport beyond your initial trip you’ll more than likely struggle to leave the country and once again be advised that you need a new passport with a new picture.

Anything else?

It’s possible that a disclaimer might be added to your passport application which warns you that the photo might cause you to be delayed at the border when entering different countries.

It’s your choice

Of course, if you need a passport photo as soon as possible then you’ll need to submit a picture with your bruise. You can, thankfully, avoid any possible delays by first sending the image over to Paspic. We’ll assess it to ensure it meets the other guidelines, in the process removing the chance of the photo being rejected for reasons other than your bruise.

Can you wear a uniform on your passport photo?

The passport guidelines state that a valid picture must be ‘a close-up of your full head and upper shoulders’. This means that your clothing will be visible – and as a result you’ll need to give careful consideration to what you wear. You might well ask: are you allowed to wear a uniform on your passport photo? This is certainly worth knowing for people who work in the army, police force or in the National Health Service. Let’s look at what you need to know about wearing a uniform on your passport picture.

Is it allowed?

Yes! The passport office has previously determined that passport pictures where a person is wearing a uniform ‘can be accepted as this is down to customer choice’. This means that you needn’t worry about your passport picture being rejected simply because you choose to go down this path with your attire. There is, therefore, no reason to fear that your uniform will be the cause of your passport photo not meeting the requirements.

Are there exceptions?

Not an exception, as such, but the passport office is keen for people to check that they own the copyright of the photo that they’ve submitted. The guidelines state that ‘obtaining consent from the copyright holder of a […] photograph lies with the customer’. This means that if the picture has been professionally taken (such as a school photo), the parent must own it. It can also be the case if your photo has been taken professionally in your workplace.

Are there any advantages?

Quite frankly, it can be more convenient for people to take their passport photo when wearing their uniform – such as on a lunch break – especially those who lead busy lives! Don’t forget, you can now take your passport photo when you’re in work rather than having to go to a photo booth simply using your phone, meaning it’s quite possible to take your passport picture in your uniform during your shift.

Anything else?

Once you’ve taken your passport photo, be sure to upload it to Paspic. We’ll assess the image to make sure it meets all the other requirements before giving it the all clear. We’ll also post you two hard copies to use in case you’re submitting a paper application.

Photo: Nurse by Walt Stoneburner licensed under Creative commons 4

Can you print your own passport photos?

You will be required to submit two photos when completing a paper passport application. These need to measure 45mm high by 35mm wide, as well as not be cropped from a larger picture. In an effort to speed along the process, you might be tempted to print your own passport photos at home before submitting them alongside your application. This would surely be easier and more convenient than going to a photo booth – but is it allowed? You’re right to ask this question before the start of the process. With this in mind, here’s what you need to know about printing your own passport photos.

Can you do it?

The passport office says that it’s ‘unlikely’ that they will accept passport pictures that a person has printed at home. The guidelines explain that this is ‘because the image and paper are often not of good enough quality’. You could try to pull the wool over the officials’ eyes and give it a shot, but if there’s a question mark over the quality then you should be prepared for the photos to be rejected.

What are your options?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of tracking down a photo booth and taking your photos there. Instead, you can still take the pictures from the comfort of your own home before sending them over to Paspic. You’ll later receive two hard copies in the post, both of which will be suitable to submit with your passport application.

Is this speedy?

Yes! It’s not just the fact that you’ll get your hands on hard copies without having to venture outdoors, but through using a service like this you’ll also have an added guarantee that your passport photos meet all the necessary requirements. This will provide you with peace of mind that your application won’t encounter any unnecessary delays because your passport photo is unsuitable.

Let us help

The passport guidelines can be rather tricky, so it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. Paspic is your answer to making the whole photo-taking process as carefree and efficient as possible, so be sure to get in touch for help.

Will I need a new passport photo if my hair is receding or balding?

The American Hair Loss Institution has found that two-thirds of all men will begin to see a change in their luscious locks by the time they reach the age of 35. This might result in baldness or a receding hairline – two things which might drastically change your appearance. The question is: will these cause you to need a new passport photo? After all, your last passport picture might have been taken a good few years beforehand – meaning your hair might have completely transformed between now and then. Let’s look at what you need to know about how this will affect your passport.

Will you need a new picture?

You should be pleased to know that a new picture isn’t necessary as far as the passport office is concerned. The guidelines don’t insist that people get a new photo just because their hair is now noticeably different. You are, therefore, allowed to retain your original picture until it is due to be renewed.

Why is this?

Basically, your hair won’t impact upon the geometric software used by e-gates. This means that the equipment will be able to recognise you if your hair has begun to recede or if you’ve started to go bald. The only major hair-related rule is that it can’t block your eyes on your picture.

So no action is needed?

You’re still welcome to change your passport photo. In fact, some people prefer to do so when they feel like their passport picture is dated. The main benefit of renewing your passport photo wouldn’t just be that you feel like the picture is more representative of your current appearance, but also that it might help you glide through queues quicker in situations where a border official has to check your identity at an airport.

It’s up to you!

If you decide to go ahead and renew your passport photo, then be sure to do so with the help of Paspic. Our team are experts at assessing photos to ensure that they meet the strict guidelines, so be sure to send over your picture when you start your passport application.

Photo: Stripped by mRio licensed under Creative commons 4

My passport has missing pages – do I need a new one?

It’s always worth having a good flick through your passport in the weeks and months before you plan to go abroad. One thing that might concern you is whether your pages have begun to come loose or – even worse – if some have already fallen out. The question is, can this cause a problem for you when you try to leave the country? Let’s look at what you need to know.

Does it matter?

You might be under the impression that you’ll be allowed to come and go as you please as long as you’re still identifiable by your passport photo and your details are clear. Unfortunately, it does matter if your passport is missing other pages. Your passport would fall into the category of ‘damaged’ and might no longer be accepted as proof of your identity.

What’s the big problem?

Ultimately, your passport might trigger suspicions that it’s counterfeit. Meanwhile, in other cases, it might indicate that you’ve visited countries that are currently on a travel ban and in the process raise security fears.

What are your options?

You can go down two routes. First of all, you can apply for a replacement passport. This will retain all the same details, as well as your picture. Your second option is to renew your passport. It’s through going down this route that you’ll be able to submit a new passport photo.

What’s the benefit of a new picture?

A more up-to-date photo can improve the speed at which you can pass through border control when entering and leaving different countries. This is because it will show a better likeness of you given that it was taken more recently. In addition, most people appreciate the fact that they’ll be able to modernise the picture to reflect new hairstyles and fashion trends.

We can help

You might want to act quickly in getting a new passport, especially if you have a trip on the horizon. Thankfully, you’ll be able to speed things along by sending your passport picture through to the team at Paspic. We’ll ensure it meets the government’s strict guidelines so that you can submit the photo in confidence that it will be accepted.

Three tips for avoiding red eye on your passport photo

You’re right to be concerned about having red eye on your passport photo. After all, the rules clearly state that this isn’t allowed – and as such, your passport picture can be rejected if there’s even the slightest flicker of red. This is because the photo wouldn’t be able to represent your natural eye colour and, as such, raises a question mark over your identity. So how can you avoid red eye on your passport photo? The following tips should help.

Remove the flash

Your camera’s flash can have its benefits when taking a passport photo. However, it’s the leading cause of red eye. The cause of your red eye is actually down to the blood behind your retina, which comes into focus when using the flash. This effect shouldn’t happen when the flash is off.

Use anti-red eye

The modern day passport process means that you can take pictures from the comfort of your own home and with your own devices. Due to this, it might be worth checking whether your camera has an anti-red eye function. This would allow you to retain the benefits of the flash while avoiding red eye in the process.

Don’t drink beforehand

You might find yourself with a sudden motivation to take your passport photo after you’ve been enjoying a few drinks. After all, what harm could it do? Well, alcohol has actually been found to bring on red eye because your pupils don’t close fast enough when you’re intoxicated and too much light is allowed in. Therefore, avoid the booze.

Brighten things up

Your pupils become more dilated in dark environments, which in turn brings on the red eye effect. As a result, you might find that it works to your advantage to turn on additional lights or move to an area where there is more lighting before taking your passport photo.

Let us help

Red eye is just one of the many factors that can cause your passport picture to be rejected. If you’re eager to complete the process first time without any delays, then be sure to send your passport photo through to the team at Papsic. We’ll ensure it thoroughly meets the guidelines before giving you the all-clear to submit it along with your passport application.

Photo: Eye C U by MSVG licensed under Creative commons 4