Traveling Thoughts: Passport Tips for Tour Part 2/2

Congratulations on your international tour! You’ve started the process of getting your new passport, but the trickiest part is getting an awesome passport photo that makes you look like the jet-set rockstar you obviously are. Here are my tips for getting your best and cheapest passport photo and completing your application.

Take your own photo.
I used a selfie stick, my phone, and natural light plus a cheap ring light that attaches to my phone to take mine - you can use anything: a phone, a real camera, some lamps, a Window. You can use the passport website to see the photo requirements, or do what I did and just google it. The basic gist is that the background needs to be white or off white, and you need to be brightly and evenly lit, with no shadows. You should wear your everyday clothes with no coverings (unless for religious purposes, then you need to include a statement about it with your application), no glasses, no hats, etc. You should have a neutral expression or a natural smile (I was told by the FedEx guy that you can’t show your teeth, but it doesn’t say that on the website. I used a closed-mouth smile anyway). Take as many photos as you want until you get one that you like and that has good lighting. It’s best to use a selfie stick or have someone else take it so that it doesn’t look like an obvious selfie and you leave more room for cropping.

Format your photo.
I used to format my photo. This website guides you in cropping your photo to the proper 2”x2” square with your head the right size and position. It produces an image for you to download that is sized perfectly to be printed at 4”x6” with four perfect passport photos that you can cut out. If you don’t have a photo printer, I recommend doing this on your phone and downloading the complete photo to your phone. If you have your own photo printer, you probably know what to do and what works best for you.

Print your photo.
If you have your own photo printer, print the image in size 4”x6” with no border, and cut out your passport photos. You’re done. If you don’t have a photo printer, I recommend that you go to a CVS or some other place that allows you to print photo prints directly from your phone. You can also transfer the photos to your computer, put them on a flash drive, and take that to a FedEx or Kinkos where they’ll only print photos from machines that take flash drives, but the first option is easier. I went to CVS and sat down at the photo printing machine. It allowed me to send my photos via bluetooth, select the size and print immediately. I got my 4”x6” photo in seconds and it cost $0.35. Wherever you go, just follow the directions on the machine and ask for help if you need it.

You now have an attractive passport photo that cost around $0.35. Aren’t you smart?

Write your check and head to the post office.
The last step is to double check the list of required documents from the front of your printed paperwork, double check the price calculator, and collect your documents together. Make sure your check is made out correctly and signed. Then head to the post office and mail your things!

Getting your new passport is pretty easy and the website helps a lot, but there are definitely some important details to pay attention to that I learned about this time around. Hope this helps, and happy travels!


Guest Post by Allie Mazon