Examples of Rejected Passport Photos and What Happens If Denied by HMPO

example of a picture for British travel document

Even though His Majesty’s Passport Office gives us certain requirements listed on their website, there’s still room for mistakes. And it’s not uncommon for a passport photo to be rejected: thousands have faced this and their new British passport arrived anyway, so not to worry!

But how exactly does the rejection scenario look? If it does take place, what is the right way to get your new UK passport as soon as possible? Let’s cover all ins and outs and look at some examples of passport photos rejected by HMPO.


What Happens If a Passport Photo Is Rejected? UK Procedure Breakdown

First of all, you don’t need to guess whether your new passport application was accepted or not. If the unfortunate scenario does take place, the UK passport office will let the applicant know on short notice. It’s up to you, however, to stay sharp so that not to miss HMPO’s notification—they will contact you via e-mail or by post.

There’s also a chance they’ll try to reach you by using the phone number (if you didn’t leave the field blank in your passport application form).
Should they do so, don’t miss the call!

Mind you, the rejection of your British passport photo does not mean that you need to start the whole process all over again. As soon as your shot is rejected, HMPO will put the passport application process on hold but leave a time window for the re-submission of a new picture.

don't miss the deadline for taking passport photos

Here’s what happens next: if you want to proceed with the existing application, you’ll need to send in a new snapshot within the specified time frame. If you do it quickly enough, the British passport renewal process will resume as if nothing happened.

What If They Reject My Digital Passport Picture?

The rules are pretty much the same for applicants who submitted online with a digital photo. There’s a slight difference though: it’ll be even easier to submit a replacement. In fact, you’ll be able to do it immediately if you’ve got a professional online passport photo service at hand.

No matter whether you were applying online or offline, there will be a time limit anyway. If you send a new shot in time, you won’t have to pay any additional fee, so make no delays!

Should you, however, miss the deadline, the HM passport office will cancel your application without giving you the money back. This means you’ll have to submit your British passport application again from scratch—and re-pay the previous fee in full.

What If I Get a Child Passport Photo Rejected?

The application procedure stays the same for children. If your picture is declined, you will be notified shortly. Once you get a heads-up from HMPO, you’ll have some time to retake your British passport photos (there should be two if you apply by post and one if you’re doing the whole thing online). As soon as the new photos are done, send them in promptly to resume the application procedure at no cost.

Got Your Passport Photo Rejected? Make Sure It Won’t Happen Again

First and foremost, let’s clarify one thing: HMPO rejects citizens’ images for good reasons only. So, if you got a note saying that you can’t use your shot as your new passport photo, have a good look at it: there must be something wrong rules-wise.

taking passport photos and each one gets rejected? study the specifications thoroughly

Don’t take new images at random in hope that this time your application will pass—instead, read through the standards for a UK passport photo on the government website. It’s better to spend a few minutes and prepare for a proper shot than apply with incompliant photos again and again.

The reasons for rejection may vary. Here are some of the most common mistakes:

  • You might have an unsuitable background. In British passport photos, it must be of a uniform light grey colour like a plain light-coloured sheet.

  • The dimensions and/or ratio of your photo are wrong. According to the HM passport office, the required size is 45mm in height and 35mm in width.

  • You closed your eyes when you took the passport photo. If so, snap a new shot but don’t stare wide-eyed into the camera—keep your eyes open as usual.

  • There’s a forbidden accessory in the frame. Remember that no accessories are allowed in UK passport photos, so even a small hair clip will get you rejected.

  • Your camera angle might be off. Remember to look straight at the objective lens and check that your head and shoulders are not tilted in the resulting shot.

Rejected Passport Photo Examples

Of course, written explanations will never be as good and useful as illustrated examples! So, let’s look at several descriptive pictures to get a good idea of how your passport photo should (and should not) look like.

no glasses or any other foreign objects are allowed in your UK passport picture

As you see in the drawing above, you can’t have any headwear or accessories in your shot. So, no hats, spectacles or sunglasses. As for religious clothing, it’s allowed only as long as your face is fully visible (the given UK passport photo example would be refused, as it doesn’t meet this rule).

keep a plain expression

When taking your new shot, make sure to maintain a plain expression with your eyes open and look straight at the camera (like the man with the green check mark does in these examples of UK passport photos). Avoid smiling, frowning or pouting—each of these expressions is a no-go for the HM passport office, so be as neutral as possible.

ensure correct lighting and focus without any shadows

Make sure that the place where you’re taking your photo has proper and sufficient lighting. There can’t be any shadows in your new passport photograph (for example, on you or the background). Also, avoid the infamous red-eye effect and make sure there’s no head tilt—neither are allowed in new passports.

your face has to be visible in full and no details can obscure it

While some natural cosmetic products are acceptable, you can’t go too heavy on them as in the first rejected passport photo example above—such a make changes your appearance too much, so you can’t have that in UK documents.

What’s more, you can’t go too wild with your hairdo. In theory, there are no style restrictions but any hair covering your face is forbidden (see the rejected passport photo example no. 3).

Finally, make sure you’re not wearing anything that matches the colour of the background (it’s plain grey in the UK). If you do, there won’t be enough clear contrast between you and the backdrop.

Replace Unacceptable Passport Photograph With PhotoBooth Online

More than anyone, we understand that keeping each recommendation and detail in mind can be downright frustrating. Luckily, we’ve got a solution to make the whole thing hassle-free and easy—use our free, professional and efficient service to take and save a compliant UK digital passport photo online!

if your digital photo gets rejected, use these UK-specific instructionsIt’ll make renewing a completely stress-free process and an absolute pleasure! Unlike a paid passport photo booth or a studio, our outstanding service will make you a professional picture instantly and for absolutely free! To top it off, we’ll help you check that every detail of your new passport photo meets the relevant standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if passport photo is rejected UK?

In case an applicant’s photo doesn’t meet one or several standards, the HM passport office will put the application on hold and notify him or her. Once their picture gets rejected, the applicant will be given a certain deadline before which he or she will need to send in another passport photo.

If HMPO receives the new picture in time, the passport renewal procedure will resume as usual. However, should the applicant miss this deadline, the submission will be cancelled with no money returned—for passport renewals, this is standard practice.

What to do if your passport photo is rejected?

First of all, look at the non-compliant picture you sent in. Refer to the guidelines on the government website (or in this article) to see why it was rejected. Once you find out what’s wrong with your previous passport photo, take a new one with the mistake corrected (but pay attention to the other details as well).

Then send your new photo the same way you sent it the previous time. If you want your British passport renewed as soon as possible, send the picture before the deadline—then the procedure will resume without you paying the fees once again.

Why does my passport photo keep being rejected?

First of all, please make sure that you weren’t sending them one and the same photograph. If your picture doesn’t meet the guidelines for a passport photo, repeated re-submission won’t help you renew.

Instead, take a closer look at the image you sent last time. Your passport photo gets rejected for a good reason, so make sure each detail is compliant with the official rules. To verify that your shot is up to all the relevant standards, consult the official government passport photo page (or use our service).