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Photoshop Passport Photo In 7 Steps

editing on laptop

Renewing your travel document may be a bit too heavy on your wallet: the prices for photos alone start from about £10 and can go much higher than that (especially if you go to a professional photographer). Let’s face it: we all want to spend as little as possible, and the British passport itself is already expensive enough!

Considering that it all adds up to a handsome sum, it’s only natural if you want to save some money. One way to do that is to photoshop passport photo by yourself and then send it in either online or by post. In this guide, we’ll show you how to do that (and offer a decent online alternative in the end).

Table Of Contents

Are There Any Passport Photo Photoshop Restrictions?

Before we start, let’s make it clear: His Majesty’s Passport Office forbids image editing when it comes to appearance in passport photos. If you want to add some fancy filter, remove the red eye effect, eliminate blemishes or smoothen wrinkles, please don’t. Your photo must not be heavily photoshopped: it must show your everyday appearance, and you have to be easily recognizable. So don’t over-edit. If you’re not following standards, your application is likely to be rejected by HMPO.

This, however, doesn’t mean you can’t resize your photo in Photoshop and remove its background, and this is exactly where we can help you! Let’s turn a usual photo into a compliant headshot, all in one layer.

Creating Passport Size Photo In Photoshop

First of all, install the software on your system. As for the version: we use Adobe Photoshop 2022. If you don’t, we recommend updating to the most recent build.

Step 1. Take Picture And Copy It To Your Computer

Or ask someone to be your photographer. In any case, the photo has to be new (or taken within the last month). Old photos won’t do and neither will scanned images.

holding smartphone

When taking your picture, make sure to face the camera directly and that your face and its features are clearly seen and evenly lit (if lighting turns out bad, retouching won’t do, it’s best to reshoot!). Obviously, your head, shoulders and upper chest have to be in the frame (it’s okay if the photo shows you at full height – we’ll have it cropped). Also, keep your hairdo neat for the photo: this will save you some time later.

Step 2. Open Your Image In Photoshop

Lauch Photoshop on your PC. Then go to File > New and select the photo you want to retouch (or just drag and drop the file).

opening new file

Step 3: Use Crop Tool

If your passport picture shows below your upper chest and far above your head, you need to cut it. With the crop tool selected (it’s in the toolbar on your left), pick Ratio in the drop-down menu above and set the proportions to 35 and 45. Once you set up each crop bar option, adjust the crop frame in such a way that your head takes up most of the picture.

The official rules state that in a photo that’s 45 mm high, your head must measure from 29 to 34 mm from your chin to the top of your head: use that as your reference.

At the same time, make sure that your shoulders and upper chest are visible. Once you position the frame correctly, click the checkmark at the crop selector above.

selecting cropped area in Photoshop

Step 4: Set Right Size

Go to Image > Size. Set the units for width and height at millimetres, and resolution at pixels/inch. A compliant photo for a British passport must be 35 mm wide and 45 mm high, so unpair the width and height fields (click on the chain icon) and enter the numbers. Also, set the resolution to 300 ppi, then click OK.

setting up correct image size and quality in Photoshop

Step 5: Remove Background

Select Magic Wand. If you can’t find it in the toolbar, press Ctrl+F and type the name in. Use this tool to highlight the background.

Sometimes, the magic wand may fail and select unwanted areas. If this happens, exclude these areas by holding down Alt (with the tool active) and clicking on them. If you want to include some areas in addition to those already selected, hold Shift and click on the parts of the image you want to add.

Once you’ve selected the entire backdrop, press Delete. In the window that just came up, click on the Contents field, select Color… and pick light grey (it’s the officially approved colour; don’t use plain white background!). In the fields Mode and Opacity, choose Normal and 100% respectively. Hit OK, and you’ll see everything you selected turn nice and compliant grey!

using Photoshop magic wand

You can use the brush tool of the same colour to paint any spots you might’ve missed (it’s on the same bar). Remember our advice about having a neat hairstyle? If you’ve chosen not to follow it, you may need to zoom in and pick off the areas where your loose hair is standing out visually.

Skip the next step if you’re going to submit your photo online.

Step 6: Create Printable Template

Now go to File > New. Photoshop will open the window titled New Document. Here, choose the Photo tab, pick the canvas size preset named Landscape, 6 x 4  or Portrait, 6 x 4 and hit Create.

selecting correct canvas size

Go back to the tab with your photo in it. Press Ctrl + A to select the entire picture, then Ctrl + C to copy it. Switch to the new tab and press Ctrl + V to paste the passport image here. Paste 2-4 images and adjust them to make some distance in between (drag by using the move tool; no border required). After all, it’s your future printout: you should be able to cut out multiple passport photos easily.

making a passport photo template for printing

Step 7: Export Resulting Image

Go to File > Export > Export As… In the following window, choose the JPG format. Also, we recommend moving the slider to the rightmost position to get the best image quality. Without changing any other settings, click Export and save the JPG anywhere on your hard drive.

exporting as jpg

That’s it, the software part is done! Once you’ve managed to photoshop passport photo, all that’s left is printing. Copy the image on your flash drive and take it to the place that can print it on photo paper.

How To Print Passport Size Photo Without Photoshop

Alright, we made it! Although pretty simple in itself, the option to photoshop passport photo seems somewhat clunky and time-consuming, doesn’t it? Also, there’s always this risk of being rejected by HMPO for excessive editing. Thankfully, today’s online technologies let you skip the hassle and get an image of the same (or even better) quality in a couple of clicks.

In addition to saving you money, our free online photo tool saves you time. For instance, you can make a Tesco passport photo here: our service will do everything we just did in Photoshop but in a matter of seconds and on a single page! In the end, you get a digital image and a UK passport photo template to reproduce with a printer. Make sure to check this great option out!