ALL 53 Examples of Rejected Passport Photos. What Happens if Not Accepted?

May 22, 2024

4 min. read


passport photo rejected

When you apply for your new passport and all of a sudden your passport photos get rejected, comforting words are quite to the point. But what’s the plan then?

Let’s find a way to help you out and prevent you from having that experience ever again.

In Focus

Examples of rejected passport photos in U.S. – what’s next?

Generally, you have 90 days to get another pair of identical photos. Do not waste time and provide a new verified passport photo sooner. Take a CVS passport photo at a local store or get it done online now. Do not waste time and provide a new verified passport photo.

What happens if passport photo is rejected?

rejected staple passport photo

You can go one of the following ways:

  • Read all the pages of the passport photo guidelines of the US Department of State.
  • Or get your new passport photo done by the same or another trusted party.

Examples and rejected passport photo

Either way is not perfect. Whether you spend a piece of your lifetime studying the passport photo guide by the Department of State or you get a pig in a poke again when you try to retake your US passport photo. We can’t have you agree to any of that!

Since it is hard to trust such a complex matter as taking a valid passport photo to someone else, let’s go through all possible examples of a rejected passport photo. It’ll take you a minute to read. But the value is amazing. You’ll never be sent home with an unacceptable passport photo. Ready? Let’s get started!

53 examples of rejected passport photos

passport photo not accepted

Let’s make it as simple as ABC and name all rare and common mistakes when passport photos get rejected:

Camera attributes

1. Lighting. The passport photo can be underexposed or overexposed, basically too dark or too light. 2. Shadows. Any shadows on your face or neck will cause the passport photo denial. 3. Reflection. Your wearable accessories, glasses, lenses, makeup, wear, etc. must not produce any glare. 4. Blurry and pixelated picture.  You should provide a clear image.

Paper quality

5. Bad quality paper. The photo paper for the passport is to be of high quality: glossy or matte. 6. Damaged photo. Smudges, holes, torn edges, and crisped photos are not accepted according to passport photo specs.


7. No signed doctor’s statement. If you have to wear glasses after surgery or headwear for medical purposes, please attach a signed statement from a medical professional or health practitioner. Such as a note from a surgeon or ophthalmologist.

8. No supporting letter. If you have to wear a head covering for religious purposes, please provide an accompanying letter.

9. Stapled or taped passport photos. While applying in person, make sure you do not elaborately attach your passport photo to the form. If you apply by mail, staple the passport photo to the form as graphically explained on the form.

10. Passport photos glued to the form. Unluckily, that happens too. Please keep off from doing that, unlike stated otherwise.

11. Photo expiration date. It sounds a bit weird, but yes, your own passport photo will expire within 6 months from your photo shoot date. Be confident it is a recent picture.

Examples of rejected passport pictures: more specifics

The magic numbers

examples of rejected passport pictures

12. Fewer passport photos than required. When applying for your new passport in person or by post, you need to submit or re-submit two identical passport pictures according to the Department of State passport photo specs. If you apply through the web, you need one digital file in JPEG or PNG format.

13. Dimensions. The US passport photo is 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm).

14. Head size. It is 1 – 1 3/8 inches (25-35 mm) from the chin to the top of your head.

15. Pixels. It’s 600 x 600 pixels up to 1200 x 1200 pixels at its maximum.

16. Eyes positioning. It should be between 1.125-1.375 inches from the lower edge or bottom of the photo.

17. No spare space between your image and the upper and side edges of the passport photos is a mistake.


18. No plain white or off-white background. You can use any plain white sheet and it will meet all the requirements for background. 19. Object, people or their body parts in passport pictures.


20. Airbrush, visual editors, or retouching of scars, moles, permanent tattoos, or distinguishing features. 21. Social media or similar filters and enhancements. It’s a no-no. 22. Black-and-white photo. Please submit a color passport photo with good contrast.


23. No clothes on your upper body or uniform. 24. Clothes blended with the background. It happens when they’re too light and you might look like you have no clothes on. 25. Too low V-neck or boat cut. Keep off from them for the same reason mentioned above. 26. Shiny pieces, sequins, or glitters.

Makeup and Glasses

rejected passport photo

27. Night-out glam or too extravagant makeup. 28. False lashes. 29. Glossy products that produce glare. 30. Heavy contouring that changes your facial features.  31. Glasses. Starting in 2016, you are to have no glasses on your new passport photo. Neither prescription eyeglasses nor style glasses. 32. Sunglasses. 33. Transition or photochromatic glasses. 34. Colored lenses. 35. Eye prescription lenses that give glare in your passport picture.


36. Big smiles. Though the U.S. Department of State allows having a natural smile in your photo, we would recommend that you keep a neutral expression and keep off from smiling with teeth. It might seem a little unfair but it will save you from possible delays in the passport application process, as well as airport system recognition failures.

examples of rejected u.s. passport photos

Face and Eyes

37. Grins, grimaces, silly faces, pouts. 38. No picture-centered face. 39. Squinting. 40. No direct look into the camera. 41. Tilted head. 42. Too large or too small face in the frame. 43. Change of your natural skin tone. 44. Eyes looking away from the camera. 45. Closed eyes. 

what happens if passport photo is rejected

Accessories and Headgear

46. Larger jewelry. 47. Facial piercings obscuring your face48. Catching-the-eye hair accessories, including bows and headbands. 49. Hats, scarves, caps, etc.

rejected passport photo examples us

Hair and Posture

50. Hair covering your face. We also advise you to pin aside your thick or curtain fringe. 51. Long hair, covering your jawline. If it’s the case, you’d better put away your hair behind your ears. 52. Unnatural body position. 53. No square shoulders.

Examples of non rejected passport photo for passport office

examples of rejected us passport photos

Now you have an idea of what examples of rejected passport pictures look like. One more thing before you’re off to get another passport photo and hopefully the one for the next 10 years.

Presently, you do not need to learn by heart the cases of passport photo denial. You can just use a compliant passport photo service online and get recommendations on where to get a printed copy in the easiest and cheapest way. Let it be a local store, post office, or pharmacy like CVS passport photo.


The state-of-the-art verification system, including Artificial Intelligence and photo experts, will validate your passport photo to meet all the US criteria. This way, you’ll always be unmistakably identified from your passport photo by the passport officers.

Examples of rejected passport photos: final thoughts

Not to join the yearly 200 000 rejected applications, you’ve learned every example of rejected passport photos. The most effective approach to getting a passport photo accepted is to use a trusted passport photo-taking service. And as a newly born expert, you’ll know when the result is perfect.  Happy passport photography!


What are examples of rejected U.S. passport photos?

There can be quite a few unacceptable examples. It may concern lighting, shadows, face visibility, and reflection. For a more detailed list, check the information above.

What happens if your passport photo is rejected?

If that happens, you’ll be asked to redo your passport photo within a certain period of time. Can you change your passport photo? Sure, you can. Follow the official passport photo guidelines when you re-submit your passport photo. You can always trust photo-taking to PhotoBooth Online. It has an intuitive interface and gives out a valid result in seconds.

What are examples of shadows passport photos rejected?

There are a few cases when the photo is rejected for shadow reasons. You might have large accessories, high-neck clothes, or hair that prevent your face from being properly lit. At the same time, you might have the source of light streaming from the wrong angle: only right or left. Neither you nor other objects must cast shadows in the background.

Can a passport photo be rejected because of staples?

Yes. Rejected stapled passport photos are not a rare occasion. If you apply for your passport application in person, you must not staple your picture to the document application.

On the contrary, when you apply by post, you should staple your passport photo to the passport applicants’ form as it is marked on the passport application form. Be sure to staple it closer to the edges of the picture.

Can you tape your passport photo to your application?

No. You should not tape your passport photos to the passport application form. You should hand in the hard copy to the passport officer together with your passport application.