Do You Have to Show Your Ears in a Passport Photo?

January 8, 2024

2 min. read


passport photos ears visible

Hey, what’s with the face in the passport photo? Do you think getting a valid passport photo is quite a journey? We couldn’t agree more. That’s why this first-hand observation article will go through one of the most confusing criteria for most passport applicants — the passport photo ears’ visibility.

Can your ears in a passport photo be covered? Let’s break it down into digestible bites.

In Focus:

Passport photo: ears visible

People are surprised to hear that they are supposed to pull their hair behind their ears when getting photos for passports. The U.S. Department of State gives no strict rules on the ears being visible in a passport photo.

You might be asked to tuck your hair behind the ears when you take your passport photo in a pharmacy or at passport expedited services, say, when you’re getting a FedEx passport photo. Why is it so often the case?

What if you love to have your hair down, and that’s how you’ll look when traveling abroad?

Do I need a US passport photo with ears showing?

As we stated before, there aren’t any rules that require you or your minor family member to show your ears in a passport photo. Even despite the fact that your ears are unique, like moles, birthmarks, scars, and other key identifying facial features of yours.

What you are to show is your clear, fully visible face to present your identity in the passport picture for the passport acceptance facility. And that’s where the down-worn locks or adorable frizzy curls can get in the way.

This clarified, let’s get back to ears business.

Do my ears have to show in a passport photo?

passport photo ears

Despite the obvious fact that you can have your ears not visible in your passport photo, as passport photo experts, we would still recommend showing them in your new photo for passport offices. If you have such an opportunity to tuck your hair behind your ears, we advise you to do so.

As we know, the most common reason to refuse a new passport application is a rejected passport photo for ears or any other reason. Here, we are on a mission to make that journey of yours to a perfect biometric passport photo as stress-free as possible. Now let’s discuss the special cases.

Can your ears be covered in a passport photo?

There are cases when you have no choice but to have your ears covered in a new U.S passport photo.

  • You have to have a head cover for medical reasons, provided you have a legitimate document, like a signed doctor’s statement.
  • You need to wear a head covering due to religious beliefs.

These are the cases when your ears will be covered in a passport picture.

Summing up: passport photo and ears

TLDR: According to the State Department’s rules, you don’t need to have your ears showing in a passport photo, unlike facial features. There are special cases for religious or medical reasons when you have no choice but to have your ears covered in a passport photo. That said, if you are able to tuck your hair behind your ears, we would advise you to do so to be sure you’re not breaking any other essential official rules, including the US rules for earrings, clothes, and makeup for a passport photo.


Do your ears have to show in a passport photo?

No, it’s not required to do so.

Do my ears need to be visible in a passport photo?

No. There are no US rules stating that.

Does your hair have to be behind your ears in a passport photo?

We suggest you put your hair behind your ears or pin them back. Your entire face should be absolutely visible for government officials to clearly see your identity.