What is the best hairstyle for a US passport photo?

Hairstyles are virtually as numerous as individuals. It’s no surprise that many of us want to keep that individuality in our passport photos as well. But if you are doing a photo for official documents, you should not go far with testing the limits, as many specific standards apply regarding the hair and face. Read on to learn about the hair requirements for US passport photos and how to style your hair to meet the tight government and international standards.

Tips on how to best style your hair

Whether or not you decide to hit the salon first, here are some tips on how to style your hair for your passport photo.

  • Make sure your hair isn’t covering your eyes or eyebrows. All of your face features must be visible.
  • If you have long hair, we recommend that you brush it back behind your shoulders so your shirt is visible. If your hair is covering up all your clothing, it’s another reason that you might look naked in the photo!
  • Don’t wear thick headbands, large hairbows, or scarves in your hair. These could be considered “headgear” and could get your photo rejected! Thin ponytail holders, bobby pins, and small barettes are just fine.

How to pose in US passport photo?

  • Your passport photo needs to show you looking straight forward with a neutral expression, but that doesn’t mean you have to look grim. Sit up straight and roll your shoulders back to elongate the look of your neck. Although you can’t smile widely or show your teeth
  • Don’t be tempted to lift your chin upwards to correct this – this will just expose more of the area under your jaw and make it look larger. Instead, thrust your chin forward an inch or so, as if you were a turtle poking your head out of your shell.

Although the official guidelines might seem quite tolerant and flexible at the first sight, this is, however, not the case. The authorities can easily turn your passport photo down if it’s not compliant with the regulations, and sometimes, you might not even be aware your hairstyle doesn’t meet them. To make sure your picture falls within the criteria, have a look at some of the most common situations that might cause confusion.  

What is the best hairstyle for US passport photo?

There may be many concerns regarding the allowed hairstyles for passport photos. Some people raise the point that in passport photographs, it only makes sense to have your regular hairstyle, even if it does not fit with the requirements, as that is the way you are likely to look during border control. 

However, it’s worth noting two important things here. First, a passport lasts 10 years, and it is quite unlikely that you’ll stick with one hairstyle for a decade. Second, it is used for identification, not presentation. It is all about the key biometric characteristics of your face, not the good-looking hairstyle. So, all things considered, it seems quite reasonable to go with modest and elegant hairstyles, and it is better to leave the fancy hairdos for different occasions. 

Can the color of my hair differ from the one in the US passport photo?

There are many queries about what changes in appearance, especially regarding hairstyle, call for a passport renewal. Luckily, in this matter, the Department of State is quite clear and provides us with a specific list of circumstances in terms of appearance, which force you to update your passport. In general, only a substantial change of looks, especially one changing the biometrics of your face, calls for a new passport submission. Therefore, hair alterations, whether it is cutting or growing it, dying, or any other modifications, do not compel for passport renewal, as they are not considered a significant change. 

What hair accessories can I use for US passport photo?

And what about hair accessories? There are circumstances under which you need to clip your hair, but what are you allowed to use? The answer is no. According to the official U.S passport guidelines, you may not wear any decorative accessories in your hair for passport photos. The only exception is subtle and non-eye-catching hairpins, used to, for example, uncover your forehead. 

Can you cover your hair for religious reasons in US Passport photo?

If you wear religious headgear, you’ll need to make sure that it isn’t covering your face at all. For example, you may wear a hijab scarf, but not a niqab that covers most of your face. You’ll also need to submit a letter explaining that you wear the item for religious reasons every day.