Passport photographs

New rules for UK passport photographs.


For many years passport photos have been more ‘mug-shot’ than ‘portrait’. No smiling, straight on to camera, nothing covering the face, even lighting etc. This is to do with the facial recognition systems now in use for security so is totally understandable. More recently rules have been changed so that it’s advisable not to be wearing glasses as well. Again to do with facial recognition so understandable.


Now you can take a picture on a smart phone or tablet and send it in yourself. Brilliant. There’s guidance to follow of course but it’s another great way that we can use our digital technology to make our lives easier – or is it.


I’ve been taking passport photos for my entire career. I remember when we could take our time and use intricate studio lighting to make proper portraits of people. I also remember, from bitter experience, how a 10 year passport can be very embarrassing for a 19 year old who had his picture taken when he was 10!

I’ve recently had a couple of clients who have come to me for UK passport photos who have tried to do it themselves first. They were intelligent people who checked the website and followed the rules as best they could but their pictures were still rejected – several times. This is understandably infuriating, especially if you need your passport application processed quickly. I’ve even had people come to me who have had photos taken in callibrated photobooths rejected – usually people who’s grey hair has bleached out against the white background in the machine. People go to these machines in good faith and get rejected which must be infuriating let alone much more expensive than they were anticipating!


As I say above, it’s great that we can use personal technology to make our lives easier but people who say we can use it for official purposes must make sure that it, and our human input, link in with their systems too. If this is too difficult to achieve just don’t do it yet and continue to use the system that already works.

Hopefully it’s a teething problem for them but in the meantime if anyone has problems with their passport photos, give me a call for a guaranteed result.



Rules for using a photograph you took yourself can be found here.


General rules for passport photos can be found here.


And general passport application guidance can be found here.

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