It’s that time of year again when people start planning their summer holidays and travel overseas, and one of the most important aspects of this organizing is the passport and any visas that might be required.
For most countries they require that the visitor has a passport that has more than 6 months to run before renewal, so it’s vital to check the renewal date and apply well in advance of the travel time. Part of that renewal (or new application) is the photo, and these days there is very strict criteria before it’s accepted by the passport authorities; so it’s best to use a professional photographic studio rather than relying on a machine in the local supermarket.
UK passport photos have to be 35mm x 45mm in size, a light grey background, the height of the head from chin to crown 29mm – 34mm, full face and neutral expression (no smiling or mouth open), and it’s advised that spectacle wearers remove their glasses as frames and lens reflections may obscure the eyes in the final photos. The photos are then biometrically copied into the new passport by the authorities.
Most European passports have similar criteria, though some may vary in size; so it’s best to check with the appropriate embassy for their regulations if you’re applying for a passport in a different country (other than the UK).
Visa photos also vary in size and criteria for different countries – for example, travelling to India requires a photo 50mm x 50mm (or 2” x 2”) with the visa application. This incidentally is the same as the passport or visa photo for the United States, so if you’re travelling to both countries hold onto the spare photos.
Passports are now required for all babies – no longer can they be included on their parent(s) passports – but the criteria are less stringent as eyes are not required to be open up to one year old, and the requirement for a neutral expression and closed mouth is relaxed. But other factors must be observed, so once again it’s still best to use an approved professional photographer, rather than using a photo-booth or attempting to take your own photos with a mobile phone camera.
These days passport and visa photos can be sent electronically with the application forms, so you can ask your local photographer for a digital image instead of prints, or you may request both versions of the photos.
Once you have your new passport, it’s one less concern in your travel plans, so Bon Voyage!