Image Editing

Feb 10, 2022

How to Remove the Background for a Passport Photo

Gone are the days when you had to sit in a tight little booth that always smelled funky, and you ended up paying 20 bucks for passport photos. We’re going to show you how to take a passport photo you won’t be embarrassed by.

Hands holding a US passport

We will share with you the requirements you need to fulfill in the U.S. and in Europe, from facial expressions to how you should dress. And we will show you how to remove the background for a passport photo so you can easily shoot it in the comfort of your own home.

How to shoot the perfect passport photo at home

The annoying thing about passport photo booths is that you only get one shot — three if you’re lucky. And somehow, you still end up not looking your best, right? 

No need to worry though, as you can also shoot the perfect headshot for a passport directly at home. Here are our top tips to do so:

  • Choose a shirt or dress with a nice collar, a color that compliments you. Apart from your lovely face, this is the only thing people will be able to see on your passport photo, so make sure you're happy with your choice. Other than that feel free to wear your pajama bottoms. 

  • Style your hair so you feel confident and in a way that represents your everyday look. Just keep in mind that the shot will be from the front only. For the ladies: this can mean that your bun or ponytail might disappear if you don’t place it high or low enough. We recommend looking straight into the mirror when you’re giving your hair a style to make sure you’re happy with it. When it comes to requirements: your hair shouldn’t be covering your face, especially your eyes. So if you have bangs and they are too long — cut them or clip them back with a pin.

  • Place a lighting source right in front of you like a lamp, or take the photo facing a window. This will make sure your face doesn’t have any shadows. This is yet another requirement: you can’t have shadows in a passport photo. Plus, you’ll look more fabulous.

  • Use a tripod. This will help you avoid any shaking while you’re taking your photo. Also keep in mind your camera or phone lens should be at the same height as your eyes and placed directly in front of you to meet the requirements. A tripod makes that a lot easier.

  • Use the portrait mode on your camera or phone — this will help sharpen your face.

  • Use a plain background. Once you’ve shot your passport photo we recommend removing the background of the photo later on. To make this as simple and accurate as possible, it’s better to use a pretty plain background in the first place.

  • Keep your eyes open and a straight face. We know you love a cheeky smile, but unfortunately no matter what country you’re applying for a passport in, smiling (or pretty much any expression other than a plain one) is a no-go.

These tips on how to shoot the perfect passport photo at home apply to all passport photos, no matter what country you’re in. And will hopefully also have you looking your best. 

Yet, when it comes to the size and background of the photo, there are specific differences between the requirements. Below we’ll cover the most important ones for the US and Europe. 

Also, feel free to skip straight to the last paragraph about how to remove the background for a passport photo. 

US passport photo requirements

United States passport, a camera and money laying on a table

If you’re a US citizen applying for a new passport, your photo will need to fulfill these requirements: 

  • The passport photo size needs to be 2” x 2”.

  • The background needs to be white.

  • Your head must be between 1 -1 ⅜”.

  • The passport photo must be printed in color on photo-quality paper.

  • The image needs to have been taken within the last 6 months.

  • It shouldn't be edited with a filter but instead should be natural, clear, and unfiltered.

  • You need to have someone else take the photo or use a tripod stand; selfies are a no-go.

US passport facial expression & dress code requirements

  • You should keep a straight face, not smile, nor use other facial expressions.

  • You can’t wear glasses unless you have a medical certificate stating you cannot remove them.

  • Uniforms are not allowed; a camouflage design, uniform collar, or similar are not to be shown on your passport photo.

  • No hats. Headscarves are allowed for religious reasons; make sure they’re not covering your face.

  • Jewelry can be worn as long as it's not covering your face or eyes.

Still not sure if your passport photo for the US meets all the requirements? You can use the government's testing tool or check out the official website for complete guidelines and examples.

European passport photo requirements

German passport on white background

If you’re a European citizen applying for a new passport, your passport photo will need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • The passport photo size needs to be: 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm.

  • The background needs to be white or gray.

  • Your head needs to take up 70-80% of the photo, around 32 mm to 36 mm.

  • The passport photo must be printed in color on photo-quality paper.

  • The image needs to have been taken within the last 6 months.

  • It shouldn't be edited with a filter but should be natural, clear, and unfiltered instead.

  • You need to have someone else take the photo or use a tripod stand; selfies are a no-go.

European passport facial expression & dress requirements

  • You should keep a straight face, not smile, nor use other facial expressions.

  • You can wear glasses with thin frames, but they can’t cover your eyes.

  • No hats. Headscarves are allowed for religious reasons; make sure they are not covering your face.

  • Jewelry can be worn as long as it's not covering your face or eyes.

  • Uniforms should be avoided as well as colors matching the background.

  • Beard: Optional.

Still not sure if your passport photo for Europe is right? Hop on over to the European Commission's Passport Guidelines for the complete guide. 

How to remove & change the background color of a passport photo

Do you have a perfect passport photo shot, but the background color is off, or something got in the way? Generally speaking, no matter what country you’re applying for a passport in, your background should be plain. In the US, a white background is the requirement and in Europe you can opt for either a light grey or a white background. 

remove.bg is the perfect passport photo background remover if you need to change your picture's background color. Let’s dive in to show you how:

  1. Go to remove.bg.

  2. Drag and drop your headshot. Within seconds, you’ll have the background removed.

    remove.bg upload page
  3. Now press > Edit.

    Edit button on remove.bg
  4. Then go to > Color.

    Changing background color on remove.bg
  5. Select the light gray option if you want a gray background.

    Selecting a grey background color on remove.bg

Still wondering what passport photo background color to choose? Most countries like to see a white background. To do this follow the steps above and select the white background in remove.bg. It’s the easiest and quickest way to make a white background for a passport photo.

Selecting a white background on remove.bg

Once you're happy with your choice, go ahead and hit > Download. The PNG file will download onto your computer. To learn more, check out our blog post about how to add a white background to a photo.

That wraps up our top tips and step-by-step guide on how to remove and replace the background of your passport photo. Hop on over to remove.bg and try it for yourself for a brand new and fresh passport photo — minus the photo box and flimsy curtains.

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Comments

Sal June 30, 2022
Passport photos shouldn't be digitally altered
Bill August 09, 2022
meh. Whatever.
Graphic Experts India February 17, 2022
Its really informative for all who carried passports. Nice
Thanks .
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