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Although the UK does not operate a compulsory Identity Card scheme, legislation is in place for the issuing of UK Passports that adopts some of the standards that have been applied worldwide with the introduction of biometric ID Cards and passports.

Biometric passports were first introduced in 2006, and contain information that allows more reliable verification of the passport holder’s identity, together with improved anti-fraud measures. Because of this, the requirements for the photos used in biometric passports is much stricter than for non-biometric.

The following is a guide to making sure the photo you submit with your passport application complies with current requirements, and therefore reduces the risk of your application being rejected.

All photos submitted with an application must be –

  • Taken within the last month prior to applying
  • In colour
  • On plain, white photographic paper with no border
  • On a plain cream or light grey background
  • Clear and in focus
  • Free from creases or tears
  • Unmarked
  • A close-up of full head and shoulders only
  • Free from objects and other people

There are also several requirements of what the image itself can and cannot show or include. Although some edits and adjustments are possible after the photo has been taken, the task is made much easier by getting as much right as you can “in camera”. The subject in the photo must demonstrate the following –

  • Facing straight forward and looking at the camera
  • Have a neutral expression with no smiling or frowning
  • Eyes open and visible, and mouth closed
  • No reflection or glare from glasses. It is preferred that photos are taken without glasses
  • No hair in front of the eyes
  • No hairbands, slides or other decoration
  • No hat or head covering unless for religious or medical grounds and all facial features must still be visible
  • No clothing or objects in front of the face
  • No “red eye” from a camera flash
  • No shadows on the subject or background

See our guide to taking a biometric passport photo for further information.

Allowances may be made if an applicant suffers from physical or mental disabilities which make it difficult to meet the requirements. Allowances may also be made for babies and young children.