Can you smile In A Passport Photo? – All You Need to Know

Traveling is a passion for some people and a compulsion for others. You may opt to go on a trip for leisure with family and friends, or you may need to travel for business. Every domestic or international flight requires some documentation like a passport, visa, or ID card to travel on the plane. These documents have specific rules like can you smile in a passport photo? Before making your documents, get some information about authentication and requirements. 

Can you smile in a passport photo?

Visas are a kind of permission letter of a government to let people arrive in their country. Moving from one country to another requires a passport, visa, and other essential documents. A passport helps to identify the person at boarding before the plane’s departure. 

After the factual identity verification, you can get a boarding pass at the airport. You cannot travel on the plane without a boarding pass, or you may say identity verification. For this purpose, your passport picture must match your face. That’s why knowing that can you smile in a passport photo is necessary. 

Yes, you can smile in the passport picture, but the smile must be gentle and natural. Though these decisions vary depending on the country, most countries allow people to smile, usually in passport photos. 

Facts about facial expressions in the photo

Although you can smile in a passport photo with a closed mouth, you cannot make a broad and deep smile or the one that shows your teeth in the picture. This is due to the automatic facial recognition on boards, as it is not apparent to smile at the time of boarding. It may cause a problem while identifying the face through computers. 

Some countries prohibit smiling in a passport photo to avoid all the complications. Natural facial expressions are preferable to avoid any problems. 

Conditions for passport photo

Passports are used for face identification, so they require some special reasons to make the process easier. Before submitting a passport application, follow the instructions below before clicking a picture for your passport. 

Natural facial expressions

Don’t make weird facial expressions before clicking the photo for your passport. Because passports are not only for stamps but also for identification and citizenship proof. That’s why you should always give natural expressions rather than silly ones and slightly smile in the picture. 

Smile on face

If the query “can you smile in a passport photo” is disturbing you, the answer depends on how you smile. It doesn’t mean smiling is banned for a picture, but you can smile in a passport photo. Making a wide and inappropriate smile or one where your teeth are visible is unacceptable. This type of picture can take time and may create issues while scanning. Hence, a slight and natural smile is only acceptable for a passport. 

Direct eye contact 

Place your face directly in the direction of the camera to make direct eye contact in camera. Open the eyes fully for complete identification, as partial or closed eyes are not allowed. 

No side pose

You must click the picture from the front side that shows your clear portrait image. The side pose is not quite authentic to verify your identity. So it is always best to use the front picture. 

Back camera picture 

The front-side pictures don’t mean clicking a selfie. No country accepts a selfie picture on the passport. Ensure that someone else clicks your image for your passport rather than take a selfie. 

Removal of glasses 

Make the eyes clear and visible in the camera. Never use any glasses, either those that are sunglasses or due to a doctor’s prescription for passport pictures. But if you want to use them and cannot remove them due to medical requirements, attach written approval from the doctor when you submit the passport application


The attire should be acceptable and appropriate so that it doesn’t create any hassle in verification. Don’t use hats, caps, or any other headwear to cover the head, even for medical or religious norms. You must attach a doctor’s statement with the passport application if it is a medical issue. For religious purposes, you must link an approval that states that you wore this head over for religious norms and use it publicly. 

Rejected passport photos

Several reasons become cause for the rejection of the passport photo. The rejected passport photos may include some factors that are faint of a person’s identity. This may consist of frame size, background, blurriness, etc. 

Some following factors may become a cause of rejected passport photos


You must choose a white or off-white background for the passport picture. The authorities may reject a picture with a colorful background with some design, shadows, or pattern. 

Use of filter

Some people want to keep their passport picture beautiful, so they use some filters before printing. This is one of the main reasons for rejected passport photos. So you must prefer to print the precise, actual, and visible pictures for your passport. 

Picture size

Remember to print the picture in 2″ x 2″ size and keep your head in the center of the image. Keep your head between 1″ and 1.4″ according to this size frame.


Sometimes cameras cannot focus on the person clearly, which is a reason for rejected passport photos. Make a picture with a clear format and clean background without any dots, patterns, or shadows. 


The passport and visa are the primary documents for the approval to travel from one country to another. Passports not only show the visa stamp but are also an identification. A passport picture is a source of facial verification at the airport. So it requires a decent photograph to identify a person quickly. Many factors lead to rejected passport photos. 

The factors may include the background, size, editing, eye contact, head covering, etc. It is also an important question: can you smile in a passport photo? The answer may vary according to the airline or the way of smiling. Now almost all the airlines accept a gentle smile with natural expressions. So it is OK to smile in a passport photo, but natural expressions are more accurate to prevent rejection. 

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