(Last updated on: 04/04/2020)
Taking the perfect baby passport photo is a challenge. Heck, taking any baby passport photo can be extremely difficult!
I’ve done it twice now and each time I tried and failed to take a good enough baby passport photo. I spent hours taking photographs at home, lining up sheets in different rooms to alter the lighting in the shot, getting my husband to stretch out the sheets so that they didn’t look creased and trying to stop my baby from turning her head. All of this effort and still, I was not victorious. Taking a baby passport photo is certainly no easy feat.
I got there in the end, of course. But it was a rather stressful task to say the least! So I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of the things that I learned for other parents tasked with taking the perfect baby passport photo.
In this post I will summarise the baby passport photo requirements, as stipulated in the UK, give tips on how and where to pay a professional to take your baby passport photo and explain how to take a baby passport photo at home.
Baby passport photo requirements
As I outline in my blog post ‘How to apply for a baby passport‘, it is very important that you read the guidance and support materials before completing your application. The criteria for obtaining a British passport is very specific and if it is not met then your application will be returned to you.
The photo is an integral part of a passport application. Personally, I think this is a bit silly for babies. In five years time, your child will look nothing like they did when they were born; which effectively renders the passport photo useless, as you cannot tell if it is the same child in most cases. Nonetheless, we all need to play by all the rules, and you will need to take a photo for your baby’s passport.
The rules for baby passport photos are pretty standard throughout the world, however, it is important that you check with the passport office of the country to which you are applying to to see if they have any specific requirements.
Below you will find the rules and requirements for taking a passport photo in the UK.
All baby passport photos must be:
- clear and in focus
- in colour
- unaltered by computer software
- at least 600 pixels wide and 750 pixels tall
- at least 50KB and no more than 10MB
The photo must:
- contain no other objects or people
- be taken against a plain light-coloured background
- be in clear contrast to the background
- not have ‘red eye’
In your photo your baby must:
- be on their own
- not be holding any toys or have a dummy in their mouth
- be facing forwards
- not have hair in front of their eyes
- not have a head covering (unless it’s for religious or medical reasons)
- not have anything covering their face
- not have any shadows on their face or behind them
There are some exceptions for baby passport photos that would not be acceptable for an adult application. This makes life a little easier. These are:
- Children under 6 do not have to be looking directly at the camera or have a plain expression
- Children under one do not have to have their eyes open.
- You can support the baby’s head with your hand, but your hand must not be visible in the photo
- Children under one can be laid on a plain light-coloured sheet and the photo taken from above .
Passport applications can be done either online on by paper.
If the online application is used, the photograph will be submitted digitally.
If a paper application is made then you will need to have a hard copy of your baby passport photo. The photograph must meet the following rules:
- two identical copies are provided
- photos measure 45 millimetres (mm) high by 35mm wide (the standard size used in photo booths in the UK)
- photos are not a cut down version of a larger picture
- printed to a professional standard
- clear and in focus
- in colour on plain white photographic paper with no border
- have no creases or tears
- are unmarked on both sides (unless a photo needs to be countersigned- see my post how to apply for a baby passport for more information on this)
- unaltered by computer software
Taking at baby passport photo at home
Taking a baby passport photo at home is the preferred option for many parents. It avoids the stress of taking the baby out to a photograph shop and worrying about how much time you are taking because your baby needs changing, is scared of the bright flash or has decided that being held only by mummy (who can’t be in the photo) will do.
However, taking a baby passport photo at home can be a challenge. Before you start, you will need to make sue that you have the correct equipment/setting. You will need:
- Your baby
- A camera / camera phone (if you are using the passport application app you can upload the photo straight from your phone)
- A light-coloured background. A white wall will do if your baby is big enough to sit up, otherwise most people choose to lay their baby on a white sheet (tip- make sure it is ironed first to avoid creases in the photo!)
- A location with natural light (by a window or patio door during the day, for instance)
- A toy or something to encourage them to look in the right direction
- The app or online application if submitting via the Internet
- Photo paper and a printer if submitting a hard copy
Once you have everything ready it’s time to start taking your photos. Be warned, this might take a while! For me, I spent around two hours trying to take the perfect baby passport photo before giving up and heading to Snappy Snaps for some professional help (but I’ll get to that shortly…).
Here’s what you should do:
1- Place the camera around 1.5 meters away from your baby. This way you will allow enough space to crop the image correctly for it to comply with the baby passport photo size requirements.
2- Put the light source (e.g. window) in front of your baby and do not use the flash. This will help to prevent shadows.
3- If your baby needs to be supported, put your hand under the back of the child’s shirt and hold their head with three fingers. Or alternatively, you can roll up blankets to keep your baby’s head in place, as demonstrated in the image below.
If this doesn’t work you could always give this a go (I saw this on Facebook and just had to share!)…
4- Plan to take the baby passport photo when you little one is relaxed and calm. After a feed might be a good idea.
5- Try to get your baby’s attention by talking to them or my holding up one of their favourite toys. This will ensure that they are looking approximately in the right direction. Note- baby doesn’t have to be perfectly facing the camera.
6- Meeting all of the baby passport photo is tough. Take lots of photos to increase your chances of success! Just look at how many (failed) attempts I had…
Here is a useful video, giving some more details on how to take your own baby passport photo at home.
Paying for a baby passport photo
If you don’t want to spend the time and effort to take your own baby passport photo at home you can always ask a professional to do it for you.
For both of my daughters I ended up using Snappy Snaps. It cost around £10 each time but it did save hours of trying to take the perfect baby passport photo. It also gave me the added confidence that the photo would be accepted by the passport office and that there wouldn’t be any delays in our application.
The staff at Snappy Snaps, or any other major photograph retailer offering the passport photo service, take baby passport photos all the time so you can rest assured that they know what they are doing. In just a few minutes I had both a hard and digital copy of the photo that I could then submit.
Baby passport photo checker
Since the new online system was introduced, it is easy to check if your baby passport photo meets the UK requirements. You simply upload your photo during the online application and it will notify you if it meets the criteria or not.
HOWEVER, in my case, the online system rejected my photo (that I had done at Snappy Snaps) but it was accepted when I submitted a hard copy. For this reason, I wouldn’t necessarily trust the passport photo checker. The staff at Snappy Snaps told me that it isn’t set up to recognise the exceptions to the rules for babies and therefore doesn’t always work correctly. Whilst I did believe the staff member to be telling the truth, the online system rejected my photo based on colour… which was irrelevant to the fact that it was a photo of a baby!
How to take the perfect baby passport photo
So, those are my tips on how to take the perfect baby passport photo. Looking for some travel inspiration once your baby passport has arrived? Take a look at my top 5 recommended destinations to travel with a baby! You can also subscribe to my mailing list below to receive travel discounts and coupons as well as some family travel inspiration!