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Can You Smile in a Passport Photo?


Applying for a new passport in the US requires a passport photo, which must meet certain specifications. One of the key questions people often have regarding passport photos is whether or not you are allowed to smile in them. The answer is no for passport renewal in Atlanta, GA, or any other US city; smiling in a passport photo is generally not allowed.

Read on to understand why you can’t smile in a passport photo and learn what facial expressions are permitted.

Passport Photos Must Have a Neutral Expression

One of the primary requirements of passport photos is that the subject must have a neutral expression. This means no smiling, frowning, or any other emotion. This is because passport photos are used to verify identity, and it’s vital that they accurately reflect what the person looks like in real life. It’s also essential that the image isn’t distorted by an extreme expression, which could make it hard to match a person’s face.

A Smile Can Affect the Basic Facial Features

According to the US Department of State, the officials use facial recognition software to prevent passport fraud. If the smile is too big, then it will affect and distort the basic facial features of an individual. Then, you may have to retake the photo for better quality.

Smiling May Make a Passport Photo Look Less Genuine

Smiling in a passport photo can make the image look less genuine and more posed. When you submit your application, this can be a problem, as some countries require particular poses for their passport photos. The posed nature of a smiling photo might not match the requirements for those countries, resulting in delays or even denial of your passport application. It can also be challenging to distinguish between a real smile and a forced one in the photo, so avoiding smiling altogether is best. Additionally, if you’re taking your passport photo at a picture booth or with a professional photographer, they may ask you to refrain from smiling for this reason.

Security Requirements

In addition to meeting the aesthetic requirements for passport photos, applicants must comply with specific security standards. The U.S. Department of State requires that passport photos meet their “true likeness” criteria, including facial features and expressions such as hairstyle and glasses. Passport photos should be taken before a plain white or off-white background, with no shadows on the face or behind it. The passport applicant should keep their eyes open and look at the camera neutrally; smiling is prohibited.

Children Smiling in Passport Photos

One of the most debated questions when it comes to passport photos is whether children are allowed to smile or not. Many parents have difficulty getting their little ones to take a photo without smiling, which can be even more tricky if the photo needs to adhere to official regulations. The good news is that, fortunately, most countries do allow children under the age of 12 to smile in their passport images.

Most countries have specific rules and regulations regarding passport photos that must be followed. Still, regarding children smiling in a passport photo, there are generally more relaxed regulations than for adults.

Call Passport Express for the best passport office in Atlanta. We specialize in passport applications, renewals, and photos. Our team will help you get your passport application processed quickly and efficiently.

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