Ever since we were kids, we have been asked to smile for photos. “Cheese” is the international word that forces us all to smile in preparation for a photo, whether we like it or not.

So, what a shock to arrive in adulthood and realize smiling in photos might not be the norm.

When it comes to passports, driving licenses, and other ID cards – smiling isn’t always acceptable – and looking good in a photo when you’re used to flashing your killer smile can feel totally impossible.

But is it true that you can’t smile in your passport photo?

Smiling in Passport Photos

“Can I smile in my passport photo” is one of the most asked passport-related questions on Google. And while every country’s requirements are different, generally, most passport photos do require a neutral facial expression, meaning that you should avoid smiling or frowning.

While it might seem like a strange rule, especially after being taught that smiling is an essential part of taking photos, facial expressions can make it harder for officials and facial recognition software to verify your identity – especially in a busy environment such as an airport or other border crossings.

That said, there are still a surprising number of countries where smiling passport photos are more than acceptable. If you’re in Europe or the UK, smiling in passport photos is a huge no – but countries like the United States and Canada do allow you to smile in your photos.

However, they still have a range of restrictions. For example, you can smile in passport photos – but the smile must look natural. Your smile shouldn’t obscure any of your facial features, be over-exaggerated, change the shape of your eyes, or appear as a “funny” or “silly” face.

When you visit a passport control point, simply smile as you have done in your passport photo, and you should be very easy to identify.

To understand whether or not you can smile in your passport photo, check your individual country’s requirements – each country makes it very clear on their government pages whether or not you can smile. If your country doesn’t allow it, it’s not worth the risk of a rejected passport – no matter how tempted you are to smile.

To be safe, simply stick to the rules.

passport photo requirements of USA

Can Children and Babies Smile in Passport Photos?

When it comes to taking a baby’s passport photo, the rules are slightly different for passport holders depending on what country you are applying for a passport. In the USA and Canada, while adults can smile for passport photos, it’s much better to have a neutral photo of your child, as when it comes to crossing a border you might not be able to encourage your child to make the same smile for officials when you’re under pressure.

In addition, kids change weekly, and by keeping a neutral expression, even passport photos that are years old can be easier identified by officials when the baby or child isn’t smiling in the passport photo – potentially saving you time and hassle at the border.

In order to take the perfect passport photo, the baby, infant, or child, should have a neutral facial expression, with eyes open and mouth closed. The baby’s head should be supported and facing the camera straight on, without any tilting or rotation.

If you struggle to position your baby, or they are too young to sit up, laying them on a white sheet can be a lot easier. That way, your baby is still, and you have the perfect white background to create the image as per your country’s guidelines. Once you have the photo, an Ai photo editor like AiPassportPhotos can help you edit the background and trim the image to meet the requirements you need.

Before taking your baby passport photo, be sure to check the specific passport photo requirements of your country, to prevent rejection, delays, or additional costs in your passport application.

documents of all kinds of countries

Other Things to Consider for Your Passport Photo

It’s not just facial expressions that can mean your passport photo might be rejected. In fact, there are a few other things to keep in mind before you prepare to take your next passport photo.

Most countries require you to wear clothing that contrasts with the background and avoid wearing anything that could obscure your facial features, such as hats or sunglasses and even having your hair in your face. Glasses are accepted in the majority of passport photos, however, it’s important there isn’t any glare or reflection on the lenses and that you can see the color and shape of your eyes clearly.

The background of your passport photo should be plain, without any patterns or designs. Many countries require a white background, though some allow other neutral colors, including light blue or gray. If you are taking your passport photo at home, rather than in a studio or booth, and you don’t have a plain white background, there are plenty of online apps – like AiPassportPhoto that can help you edit the color of the background, without compromising the colors of the portrait in the photo.

How Can AI Improve Your Passport Photos?

Whether your country allows smiling or not, there are plenty of different reasons why passports are rejected every single day. Don’t fall victim to a rejected passport photo – get it right the first time! AiPassportPhotos is an online website that allows you to upload and improve your passport photos with the click of a button – and they have a 99% acceptance rate with passport agencies all over the world.

Whether its size, resolution, quality, background color, or image size, AiPassportPhotos can help you edit your image to meet your country’s requirements in a matter of minutes – saving you stress, time, and money on your passport application, whether you choose to smile or not!

Taking a passport photo can be a straightforward and easy process – but only if you follow the guidelines provided by the relevant authorities. Whether you’re smiling or keeping a neutral expression, make sure that your facial features are clearly visible, and use an online app or website like AiPassportPhotos to ensure success the first time, every time!