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Passport photos and who can certify them
Passport photos are a vital part of your application. If the photos you supply are not suitable, your passport will be delayed. For some applications you also need to ask someone to certify a photo. Make sure you know exactly what is needed so you get it right first time.
The rules for passport photos
The photographs you supply with your application must:
- show you with a neutral expression and your mouth closed (no grinning, frowning or raised eyebrows)
- show you on your own (babies should not have toys or a dummy, and there shouldn’t be other people in the photo)
- be in colour, not black and white
- be identical
- be taken within the last month
- be 45 millimetres high x 35 millimetres wide - this is the standard size when you have a passport photo taken in a photo booth or studio (you should not trim a larger photograph to meet this condition)
- be clear and in sharp focus, with a clear difference between your face and the background
- be taken against a plain cream or plain light grey background
- not show you with red-eye
- be of you facing forward and looking straight at the camera
- not be torn, creased, or marked
- be printed on plain white photographic paper
- be free from shadows
- be taken with your eyes open and clearly visible (no sunglasses or tinted glasses and no hair across your eyes)
- be free from reflection or glare on your glasses, and the frames must not cover your eyes - the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) recommends that, if possible, you remove your glasses
- be professionally printed (photographs printed at home are not acceptable)
- show your full head, without any head covering, unless you wear one for religious beliefs or medical reasons
- be taken with nothing covering your face - you should make sure nothing covers the outline of your eyes, nose or mouth
- be a close-up of your head and shoulders with a recommended head height (the distance between the bottom of your chin and the crown of your head) between 29 and 34 mm
- not have any writing on the front or back, except on certified photos - trademarks or photographic printing on the back must not show through
IPS also produces downloadable information on photos showing examples of what is and is not acceptable. A printed version of this information is sent out with all standard application forms.
If you are a professional photographer, see the guidance for professional photographers.
Getting your photographs certified
The person who countersigns your application form at section 10 (your ‘countersignatory’) should also certify one (not both) of the photographs. They do this by writing on the back:
- ‘I certify that this is a true likeness of [Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms or other title followed by your full name]’
They must then sign and date the statement. It is not enough just to sign and date the photograph.
If the application is for someone under 16 (including babies)
The countersignatory must:
- sign the application form at section 10 to confirm that they have known the adult who signed section 9 for at least two years
- certify one of the photographs as described above, stating the child’s full name
If you are renewing a passport
You'll only need extra verification when renewing your passport if you look very different from the photograph in your most recent passport. This means that you'll need to get your form countersigned and your photograph certified.
Who can certify your photo
For a list of who you can ask to certify your photos, see 'Who can countersign your application?'.
Changes to your appearance
You must renew your passport if your appearance has changed permanently and significantly, so you can't be identified from the photo in your current passport.
This will apply to you if, since your passport was issued, you have:
- undergone significant facial surgery or trauma
- had numerous/large facial piercings or tattoos
You will need to supply a new photo and get it certified. You will also be expected to pay for your new passport in the normal way, even if your old one has not expired.
If a child under 16 has changed in appearance due simply to the normal ageing process, they don't have to apply for a new passport.
Minor changes to appearance
If you can still be identified from the photo in your current passport, you don't need to apply for a new one. For example, growing a beard or colouring your hair would usually count as minor changes.
If you wish to get a new passport to reflect your changed appearance, you can do so. You will need to apply and pay in the normal way and include a new photo with your application.
If you are unsure whether this applies to you, call the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000.