We used to think that a biometric photo for official documents must be taken with advanced cameras by professional photographers. That is absolutely a misconception. As smartphone cameras develop, it is possible to take a passport photo on phone. So, if you want to have a try but have no idea whether your picture would be approved by the authorities, please continue reading.

In this article, we would introduce a step-by-step guide on how to take a passport photo with your phone, including background, lighting, phone setting, position and editing, with which you could have qualified photos for passports fast and easily.

US Passport Photo Requirements

No matter what equipment is used, the passport photo must comply with all the latest official requirements. They might differ from region to region, and we will take The US as an example.

  • Photo size: 2×2 inches.
  • Ratio: The head measurement from the chin to the top of head should be 1.29 inches.
  • Background: white.
  • The photo must be taken within the last 6 months.
  • Look straight at the camera and keep a neutral expression.
  • Wear colored and plain clothes. 
  • Don’t wear sunglasses glasses or headbands.
  • Let the light evenly spread on the face and avoid shadows, stains or distracted items in the photo.
the standard example of U.S. passport photo

How To Take a Passport Photo with Your Phone

Taking a passport photo with an iPhone is quite simple by following the steps below.

  1. Keep Your Face Clean & Clear

A passport photo is used to recognize your identity at the entry checking point, so it must review your real appearance. It is suggested to take off all decorative accessories, such as hats, scarves, glasses, nose rings, etc that might cover any facial parts. Religious headgear and prescription glasses are acceptable, but you have to offer related statements.

Most authorities do not pose restrictions on makeup. That is to say, for better temperament, moderate or natural makeup is acceptable. However, heavy makeup that changes your look must be rejected. For example, don’t use smoky eyes, colored contact lenses, colorful eyeshadows, etc.

Even if you don’t put on any cosmetics, please wash your face beforehand because stains of oily skin would not only look unpleasant but also hinder approval.

  1. Choose Proper Background & Lighting

The US government requires plain white or off-white background for passport photos.  There might not be a studio backdrop at home, so you can stand or sit in front of a white wall or curtain a few feet away.

Some countries might have different standards for colors. It’s ok if you can’t find a suitable one because we would introduce an editing tool to adjust the background in the final step.

In order to prevent shadows on the photo and reflect the natural skin color, you should look for a well-lit room. Daylight is preferred. Stand by the window and face the light source. Avoid dawn or dusk because there would be dim lighting or golden hues.

  1. Set up Your Phone & Parameters

Selfie is prohibited, so don’t use portrait mode to take a passport photo on phone. You’d better ask your friend or family member to help. If impossible, use a tripod to raise your iPhone to eye level and turn to rear camera which usually takes clearer images.

Don’t zoom or add any filters and effects which will distort your look. Use the standard mode of default camera of iPhone instead of any third-party camera app.

In the event of taking the photo without other people’s help, you can put something at the place you are going to stand/sit (like pillows or dolls) and let the camera focus on it.  Run to that item and shoot a picture so that your face is clearly seen.

  1. Pose Within the Frame

An iPhone is equipped with grid lines that help novices to take well-composed pictures. Since only your shoulder and head would be visible in the frame, ask the photographer to keep your head in the middle grid and shoulder along with the bottom line. It helps to ensure you face to the front without tilting, looking up

and down.

5. Take the Photo

Then you are ready to take a shot. Capture more shots so you can choose the most suitable one. Use continuous shooting mode if possible. Check clarity, facial expressions, position and shadow primarily. Never mind the size and frames which could be cropped and straightened in the next step.

6. Edit Your Passport Photos

Now that the best photo is chosen, it’s time to straighten or crop the photo. Although these simple adjustments could be achieved with built-in editing feature of iPhone, we still want to recommend AiPassportPhotos passport photo maker.

For one thing, if you can’t find a proper background while taking photos, it will remove it and change to a standard one according to the service you choose. For another, it would be difficult for us non-professionals to decide whether the photo taken with iPhone is compliant enough while it is not the case for AI.

the U.S. passport photo generated by AiPassportPhotos

Powered by advanced AI technology, this tool could automatically recognize faces and analyze whether it is qualified or not. If yes, it will move on to modify it.  If not, you need to upload a new one.  Anyway, the whole process takes only a few seconds. The simple interface and operation are a big bonus for newbies.

Tips to Take Passport Photo on Phone

In order to take a satisfactory shot on the first try, here are some useful tips that ensure the quality of passport photos.

Phone Setting

As the authority requires the applicant to look straight at the front instead of watching around, it is suggested to set the phone at eye level. That is to say, imagine that the eyes and phone are two points, the line between them should be horizontal. It is easy to achieve if you have a photographer. Ask him to adjust n accordance with whether you are sitting or standing. If not, raise the camera with tripods or fix it on the table or shelf. Please bear in mind that a selfie with front camera is not allowed. 


In order to get the best results, it is important to keep a proper distance between the subject and the phone, the subject and the wall. For example, you should stand or sit 30-50cm in front of the wall and about 1.5m away from the photographer. In this case, we can avoid projecting shadows on the background.

Relax yourself and look at the camera with your head staying in the center. Don’t tilt, shrug shoulders or slouch because it makes you look depressed and dull.


Either extra strong or dim light influences exposure and results in shadows, which is not acceptable for passport photos. Make sure to take advantage of medium light and illuminate the person evenly on the face. Natural daylight is highly recommended. It is suggested to take photos during the time except for dusk or dawn on a sunny day. Let the person face the light source. If the sun shines on either side of the person, use artificial supplement light to shine from the other in case of any shadows.


The applicant should be the only subject in the passport photo, so please make sure there are no distracted items around the person. It is essential to take baby passport photos. Parents usually use toys or snacks to comfort babies. Make sure not to capture them in the frame.


The only official requirement for passport photo dressing is to wear colored clothes. However, we all know that improper dressing would also damage the photo quality, so here are some hidden dress codes.

Wear dark colors in contrast to the plain background. Always keep away from pure white clothes in passport photos because they would blend into the background and becomes hard to recognize.

Wear casual clothes. Some of you wear uniforms for work, but please take them off before taking passport photos. Don’t try to be too casual or fashionable. Off-the-shoulder tops and vests look beautiful in daily life, but they might make you look naked in an identification photo because the photo is cropped to show the head and shoulder only. Moreover, glitters like beads, sequins and so on are popular to attach to outfits, but please avoid wearing clothes with similar items if they reflect light. In a word, T-shirts, blouses or jackets in pure color or plain patterns are favorable.

Facial Expressions

Poster models must show rich expressions, but you are supposed to look serious and natural on an official certificate. Stick to the principle of opening eyes and closing mouth. Don’t wink, frown, twitch your mouth, pout or giggle because they will not only make you look emotional but also distort your facial features. Once the officer can’t identify your original look, your application is very likely to be turned down.

Take Away

The biggest advantage of taking a passport photo on phone is time- and money-saving. Time has gone when you have to drive to a photo studio and queue up for hours. When it comes to how to take a passport photo with your phone, we hope this passage would guide you thoroughly through it. Start your DIY passport photo with iPhone right now and get ready for your trip.