Passport Photos 101: Where to Get Your Passport Photo Taken

A passport photo is one of the required documents to get a passport. It has specifications that a picture must have and if not followed, cannot be used.

There are many places you can go and get a passport photo taken. Some people prefer to do it instead of paying for the service. Others prefer to leave it in the hands of the professionals.

Regardless of your choice, a passport photo must be with a passport application. This roundup and guide about getting a passport photo will provide a list of locations you can visit and get your picture taken.

woman printing selfie photo for passport

Passport Photo Guidelines

A passport photo has standard criteria that make it unique from other photos taken. Your photo must have these features and standards set by the State Department for it to get approval. Here is what your passport photo must have:

  •         The picture must be in color
  •         Must be 2 x 2 inches in size
  •         A plain white background
  •         The person must face forward, eyes open, and have a neutral expression
  •         The photo must be no older than six months
  •         No hat, headscarf, sunglasses, headband, or hair bow must be worn during the picture
  •         Print the photograph on high-quality glossy or matte photo paper

If for religious or medical reasons an attire or garment must be worn, bring proof to verify your right. These requirements apply to both minors and adults.

Places to Take a Passport Photo

Retail Stores and Pharmacies – Many retail stores offer passport photo service. For example, Wal-Mart has a designated spot to take your photo and have it available right away. Target also offers the same service. The cost will vary at these locations; nevertheless, you will have your pictures ready to submit. Pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid also have passport photo service. However, these sites are a bit pricey when it comes to the pictures. They will also have the photo ready a few minutes after taking it.

U.S. Post Offices – Some post offices offer to take your picture for a fee. It is not a common practice by this establishment. So, before you go and under the assumption that all post offices do, ask to prevent a delay in the process.

FedEx and UPS – Some shipping centers like FedEx and UPS offer passport photo service. Not every FedEx or UPS store will provide the service to take a passport photo. It is best to locate and ask before showing up. The ones that provide are usually in large cities. Smaller facilities in towns and counties may not have the service.

Costco and AAA – Some stores require membership and as one of their incentives, taking passport pictures to come with a discount. Costco, for example, offers a lower price for passport pictures. As of now, it is the cheapest cost for passport pictures. AAA also provides photo discount to its members. In some cases, if you purchase a trip through AAA, the picture fee is waived.

Professional Studios – Professional studios is another option to take your picture. However, it is the most costly, but you will get what you need. There are not many professional studios around, but if you have one nearby, you can use it. Since the change from film processing to digital, a professional photographer will have your picture available right away. In the past, you would need to return a few days later to collect them.

Registered ExpeditorsPassport expeditors can take your photo for a fee. Most applicants who are in a rush to get a passport may not have the time to stop at a Walgreens or CVS to get their picture taken. So, once at the expeditor, that task come to be done to get the passport. Using an expeditor to get your photo taken will only work if you go into the office. If you submit your papers by mail, you must have your picture taken elsewhere then send it with the other documents.

As you shop around, you find the different cost to take your passport photo. If you are not a member of a store that does require membership, then it is best to use your local pharmacies or retail stores. Keep in mind that these facilities will have your picture ready right after taking it. Once you have them, you can remove it from the list of required documents you must submit for your passport.