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PICA Corner - Passport photo requirements

Published:Wednesday | March 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Q: I submitted two passport-size photographs of myself, along with my application, and they were rejected by your customer service representative who told me the pictures were too dark. I don't understand, as the pictures clearly look like me. Can you say what kind of photograph is appropriate for getting my passport?

A: A passport is used for international travel. Therefore, it must be in accordance with the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This is important, as various international organisations rely on the veracity of the information in the document to allow for the movement of persons across national borders.

It is also proof of one's identity and a number of institutions rely on the integrity of the document as a valid form of identification when transacting business with their clients.

It is therefore incumbent on us at the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) to ensure that we provide a document that is of the highest integrity and can stand up to scrutiny. Photographs that are placed in passports must be in accordance with the quality, style and appearance set by ICAO. Therefore, your photograph will be rejected if it does not meet the required standard.

Important reminders

Below are some important reminders for you to bear in mind when taking your passport photograph.

Please note that two photographs must be submitted with each person's passport application. They must be identical and should be taken against a plain, light-coloured background. The colour of the person's clothing should not be the same as the background.

Note also that persons with grey or white hair should take their pictures against a light blue or grey background. The pictures must be recent, and should be taken within the last six months. Passport pictures must be sharp, focused and clear, and there needs to be a strong definition between the face and background. The standard size for these photographs is 45 millimetre by 35 millimetre and they must be printed on normal photographic paper.

Other requirements for passport photographs are:

Photographs should have full view of the face, with no ink blots or other marks, and there should be no shadows.

Persons should look straight at the camera while wearing a neutral expression (no smile).

Eyes must be open and clearly visible.

There should be no reflection on the spectacles of persons who wear glasses and the frames should not cover the eyes.

Head and face must be uncovered. Applicants who wear headgear because of their religious affiliation must have their entire facial features visible.

Pictures must be a close-up of the applicant's head and shoulders so that the face covers 70-80 per cent of the photograph.

Photographs must be printed at 1200dpi resolution or better if they are digital photographs.

It is important to note that the authorised person endorsing photographs should not place any seal on them.

A few reminders about passport application

Photocopied and laminated documents are not acceptable.

Applicants must have at least one reference noted on their application form in the event that additional information is required.

Only authorised persons mentioned on the front page of the application form can certify an applicant's form. The authorised officers must include their address and telephone number, and should affix their stamp in the appropriate place.

Authorised persons must be acquainted with an applicant for at least one year.

Certified application forms are valid for six months.


Adult passport (including renewals): $4,500

Minor passport (including renewals): $2,700

Replacement (lost or stolen)

Adult: $9,500; minor: $5,700

Next-day passport service

Adult: $7,000; minor: $4,200

Three-day passport service Adult: $6,000; minor: $3,700

Send questions, comments and suggestions to and the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) will respond.