Mistakes that get your passport photos rejected

There are many steps involved in getting your passport, and you don’t want your passport photo being rejected to be one of them. The government has strict parameters about what is acceptable in your passport photos. If you mess up, it can significantly delay them issuing your passport and, consequently, your travel adventures. Here are a few passport photo mistakes to avoid…

Mistake 1: Your face isn’t in the middle

Passport pictures must have your face in the center of the picture, facing completely forward, and looking directly into the camera. They don’t want to see the side of your face, or you peeking out of a corner of a picture. It must be centered, clear, and facing forward.

Mistake 2: You show too much emotion

You should wear a neutral expression in your passport photo. Don’t smile, or tilt your head up or down. Just look directly at the camera with your lips together and without emotion for your shot.

Mistake 3: You accessorize

Accessories in a passport photo are a no no. Hats, sunglasses, scarves, headphones, pacifiers in a baby passport photo, and headpieces will all get your photo rejected. Head scarves worn for religious purposes are an exception to this rule, but your face still must not be obscured by it.

Mistake 4: Your head is the wrong size

There are very specific size requirements for your passport photo. The photo must by 2 inches by 2 inches (or 51 mm by 51 mm). In addition, your head in the shot must be at least 1 inches by 1 3/8 inches.

Mistake 5: You hang out in the shadows

Passport photos must be on a white background, and they can’t have too many shadows in them either. Make sure there is no shadow falling across your face and that there is clear lighting on your features. Also, make sure there are no obstructions in front of your face, like plants or flags.

This list will help you avoid common passport photo mistakes. Steer clear of these and you’ll have your passport in hand faster. If you want to be certain your passport photos meet the requirements, then why not use Paspic to prevent delays?

How to apply for your first passport: a guide for first-time adult applicants

Applying for your first passport is often an exciting process, as it almost always preludes a big trip! However, the process can also be very arduous and off-putting, even to the point of dissuading some individuals from traveling to places, simply because of the hassle involved in preparation. In order to make the application process as straightforward as possible, we have outlined the process in three easy steps:

1. Assemble all documents that you will need for your application process. They are:

– New Passport Application Form (DS-11), which can be found at https://travel.state.gov

– Proof of US Citizenship (for example, a birth certificate)

– An application fee, which varies depending upon the circumstances of your application process and can be calculated at https://travel.state.gov

– A passport photo, which must follow certain requirements. See our 5 tips for getting the perfect passport photo. You can use Paspic to ensure your passport photo is acceptable, saving you lengthy delays.

– A photocopy of state-issued identification (for example, a driver’s license or state identification card)

2. Visit your local Passport Acceptance Facility:

Post offices, public libraries, and clerks of court throughout the country are authorized to accept passport applications. At https://iafdb.travel.state.gov, you can find the facility nearest to you. Be sure to bring the following documents with you to the Passport Acceptance Facility: application form, proof of citizenship, photo ID, passport fees, and your passport photo.

3. Process your application:

First-time applicants will process their application in person. The routine service will take about a month to process. Expedited service is able to process your application in two to three weeks. Expedited service is not available for US citizens who are applying while abroad.

Although these are the basic steps that you will need to know and take for the application process, there are other rules which vary from circumstance to circumstance. For example, if you had a passport as an infant; if you are applying from outside of the United States; or if you are unable to provide one of the forms of identification required. Check out our blog archive for the answers to many of these questions and more!

Photo: Passport by Tony Webster licensed under Creative commons 2

How to take the perfect baby passport photo

Looking to travel with your baby or young child? You’re going to need a passport for them as well as yourself, should you head out of the country. The photo requirements are no different for a baby than that of an adult, which can prove rather strict. However, there are a handful of tips you can use in order to take the perfect baby passport photo.

Go simple with the clothing

This isn’t a specialty baby shoot where you’ll be sharing the photograph with all your friends and relatives. Due to this, you’ll want to avoid any kind of fussy clothing. Your best option is simply a one-piece, or a simple shirt, without a collar. The less you need to iron out and fix during the photos the better. Go for a darker shirt color, such as a dark navy blue, green, or purple. This prevents the shirt from blending into the background.

You don’t need to prop

When taking a baby passport photo, you don’t need to prop your child up. This is a major misconception. Naturally, extremely young children are unable to support their own weight, so you may find it better to completely avoid propping up a child against a chair. Instead, you can take a white sheet, place it on the floor and lay your baby down on top of it. This may be more comfortable for your child as well. You can make eye contact with them, smile and wave. This should be enough to hold their attention in order to capture the passport photos.

You know your child best and what they are more likely to cooperate with. Do what works best for you and your baby.

Keep the face straight

One of the main benefits of going with the sheet on the floor passport photo approach is it helps keep your baby’s face straight. Their face may not be tilted, otherwise the photograph will be rejected. Plus, the entire face must be visible in the picture, their eyes must be open and, ideally, their mouth shut (although there is some leeway with newborns and infants).

If you need more help with getting that perfect baby passport photo, contact Paspic today!

I’m taking a cruise. Do I need a passport?

Cruising is one of the most popular types of vacations. The price, the convenience, and the hospitality weave together an enjoyable vacation for couples, families, and friends. The variety of onboard entertainment and excursions cater to travelers of all ages. Cruises happen to be great value for a getaway with food and accommodation included. Many cruises branded “all inclusive” are popular with adults who enjoy an open bar. Can you picture it?

Unlike many other all-inclusive vacation packages, cruises offer a rare perk. Last-minute bookings for a cruise tend to be sold at deep discounts. Need another incentive to cruise? Many cruise lines offer three-day cruises for a weekend getaway. The only obstacle between you and your cruise is often a passport.

Passports are sometimes necessary on a cruise. The country’s port of call, Customs and Border Protection, and the cruise line’s regulations determine if a passport is necessary. For many cruises originating and ending in the same United States port of call, a passport is not necessary (these are known as closed-loop cruises.) However, a passport is recommended for any foreign travel so make sure you don’t forget to renew your passport in time.

Although some cruises do not require a passport, being prepared with a passport is still a safe bet. Having an up-to-date passport photo also means you can use your passport as identification during your travels. If you want to take advantage of a last-minute deal, don’t fear! Expedited passport photos are a cinch with PASPIC.com. A passport photo that does not meet the United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs will delay the processing of your passport. With PASPIC, you can upload your passport photos to confirm that they meet the requirements. Confirmation is a quick process!

Don’t let an expired passport postpone a great deal on a last-minute cruise vacation. PASPIC.com is your quick and convenient source for passport photos. Whether you plan your cruise vacation months in advance or it’s a spontaneous weekend getaway trip, be confident that PASPIC will make updating your passport photos a quick and stress-free part of the journey.

Obtaining a child’s passport when you’re a single parent

As a single parent, you work very hard to provide your child with everything he or she needs. You have been cutting expenses and saving for the trip of a lifetime. You have already had passport photos taken, but when you get the application for your child’s passport, you learn that it asks for both parents’ signatures.

In many cases, it is just not possible to get both parents to sign. However, this does not mean that you will never be able to travel abroad with your children. These rules were put in place to protect against international abductions. You can rest easy because there are ways to get around such rules when it is not possible to get the signature of the other parent.

The government’s rules on passports for children

On July 2, 2001, it became a requirement for the signatures of both parents to be included on the passport application of any child under 14. Before 2007, children were permitted to enter certain countries without a passport of their own. However, on January 23, 2007, passports became a requirement for traveling between the United States and a number of countries, such as Canada, Bermuda, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Options for single parents

Single parents who are not able to obtain the signature of the other parent have a few options to take into consideration. In the event that the absent parent does not object to the child’s passport application, he or she can simply provide a signed and notarized Statement of Consent.

On the bottom of the Statement of Consent, you will find the Statement of Special Circumstances. This is to be used when the other parent is not available. You will be able to provide an explanation as to why the other parent’s signature is not obtainable.

It is important to note that if only one parent is included on the child’s birth certificate, the signatures of both parents will not be required. Additionally, a parent who has been granted sole custody of the child may submit a copy of the court order with the passport application. So, get those passport photos and get ready to have the time of your life.

Photo: IMG_2532 by mastercharlz licensed under Creative commons 2

Tips for Savvy Traveling

When you visit a new place for vacation, you only have a limited amount of time and money to spend. Learn these travel secrets of the savvy to save on both.

Learn the airport

Find out ahead of time where your arrival airport taxi stand is, in context with your arrival gate. That way, as soon as you claim your bag and clear customs, you can head directly for the taxis and avoid wasting time and energy traversing the terminal looking for the taxi pick-up location.

Depend on your carry-on

If at all possible, avoid checking your bags. Baggage claims can claim ½ hour to 45 minutes of your valuable time while you scan the carousel searching for your bags. Skip this step altogether by packing efficiently using only the largest sized carry-on bag you can use. Use packing techniques to fit a lot into a small space, and leave excess toiletries at home, buying supplies at your destination. When you keep your luggage with you, you also have the security of knowing that your passport photo is always on your person, in case you are asked to identify yourself for any reason while on vacation.

Take a tour on day one

On your first day in a new city, hop on a bus tour so you can get an overall feel of the city. By doing this, you’ll avoid wandering around half the day with a map, trying to get your bearings. A bus tour may also bring interesting destinations to your attention that you hadn’t known about. You can then add them to your sightseeing list for the following day.

Follow the natives

Rather than eating at tourist trap restaurants where the prices have undoubtedly been jacked up just for you, eat where the natives eat. Discover popular local eateries where prices are more in line with the local economy by paying attention to where natives are headed. You can also ask your hotel concierge for recommendations for traditional, local eateries.

Go for free

Europe offers free admission to museums. Many parks, plazas and town squares around the world have free live entertainment like street musicians, jugglers and magic acts. Bank and government holidays often bring free fairs and festivals into town for the day. Spend at least one day of your vacation seeking out free ways to enjoy the city. Whatever your daily budget allocation is, you’ll save.

Traveling doesn’t have to be a budget buster. As you use these tricks and find other ways to save time and money while traveling, you’ll find that you have the resources to do a lot more of it.

Touring ideas for self-planned travel abroad

The Internet has made it possible for people to book their own hotels, airfares and cruises. But if you’re trying to plan an actual two-week vacation, making your own travel arrangements can be complicated. This is especially true if you’re visiting a spot where you’ve never been before. As you no doubt know by now, photographs online can be markedly different than actual conditions. Even if you’re really careful, you could wind up in a place that doesn’t meet your expectations. Here are some touring ideas for self-planned travel that won’t leave you disappointed.

Book a tour

If you’re vacationing in a spot that is previously unknown to you, your best bet is to book at least one tour during your stay. Preferably, schedule the tour on the first or second day of your arrival. That way, if you are shown someplace that you’d like to see more of, you’ll have time to explore it on your own.

If you envision a tour as taking place inside a hot bus or atop a trolley while a guide yells at you through a megaphone, think again. Quality tours can be as sophisticated as a leisurely wine tasting tour through the Bordeaux region of France, or as thrilling as a spin around the shores of Key West on a jet ski.

Head aboard a cruise

Another less complicated way to travel in an area you’re unfamiliar with is to take a cruise. Though many cruises spend several days at sea, with most of the entertainment being onboard, there are other cruise options. Weekend and day cruises usually travel up and down coasts, with interesting narration offered by the captain.

River cruises last longer and are more lingering, with a lazy feel about them. On a river cruise, you can expect to travel closer to the shore, at speeds that allow you to truly take in the ambience of the city or town you’re touring. To best take advantage of a meandering river cruise during your vacation, organize your hotel room stay to accommodate the cruise, since you’ll be overnighting on the riverboat for several days.

Both of these options make it easier for you to get a real sense of the place you’re visiting, without the need for you to walk miles each day with a tourist map trying to make sure you see all the sights. Wherever you plan to travel abroad, be sure to confirm several weeks beforehand that you have an updated passport with a valid and accurate passport photo. If you need a new passport, you’ll have plenty of time for it to arrive before your trip abroad. Bon Voyage!

Help! How do I get expedited passport photos?

A spontaneous trip abroad can become a headache when you aren’t prepared with an up-to-date passport. If it is your first time applying for a passport, the transaction might seem overwhelming. Relax. We are here to help. Obtaining a passport can be a simple process. The United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs sets forth the passport application criteria. Requirements include evidence of citizenship, a government-issued photograph identification, the application document, and a passport photo.

The United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs recommends that you apply for your passport six weeks in advance of your trip. There are a few options that will determine the processing time for your passport. Expedited processing and delivering can take anywhere from eight days to several months. The standard processing is four to five weeks.

Unapproved passport photos can add a significant delay to receiving your passport. The most challenging element for most passport applications tends to be the passport photo. The passport agency has specific criteria regarding acceptable passport pictures. To avoid a delay in processing your passport application, be confident that your passport pictures meet the United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs standards.

Acceptable passport photos meet these requirements:

– Passport photos must be 2 inches by 2 inches
– The size between the top of the head and chin must be 25mm to 35mm (pictures taken too far away or too close up will not meet the requirements)
Passport photos must be taken within the past six months. The photograph should reflect your current appearance.
– Do not wear accessories on your head or face. No glasses, hats, or headgear is acceptable in a passport photo.
– If glasses are a requirement for medical reasons, your application must include a signed medical note from your doctor
– Headgear is not acceptable, this includes hats, head coverings, headphones and wireless hands-free devices. The only exception to head coverings in passport photos is in the event that they are normally worn for religious purposes and you wear them on a daily basis.
– Your face should show a neutral expression. Do not exaggerate a smile. Be sure that both eyes are open.
– The passport photo must not show shadows on your face
– Wear clothes that you would wear on a normal basis
– The passport picture must be in color

To avoid delays in your passport application, trust Paspic to ensure your passport photos meet the government’s regulations.

Photo: Passport by seantoyer licensed under Creative commons 2