When you go to get your passport photo taken, you might be surprised when your photographer neglects to tell you to “smile and say cheese.” That’s because the government has certain rules about what types of facial expressions are acceptable, and if you break these rules, your passport application could be rejected. Because there are so many rules, many people are unsure whether or not it’s okay to smile for a passport photo.
In some countries, such as Great Britain and Canada, smiling for a passport photo is strictly forbidden. Looking serious, even downright gloomy, is encouraged. This is because these countries use facial recognition software to cut down on passport fraud. Unfortunately, smiling can make it hard for this software to “read” your face. For the same reason, Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia have forbidden motorists to smile for driver’s license pictures.
However, in America, it might be okay to smile for your passport photo. Just don’t go overboard. According to the US Department of State, “unusual expressions” are forbidden. No crossing your eyes or sticking your tongue out. Also, squinting is forbidden and you don’t want to show your teeth. So, if you naturally have a big, toothy grin that changes the way your entire face looks, tone it down for the camera.
As of November 1st, 2016, you are no longer allowed to wear glasses in your passport photo.
Before you go out for your big photo shoot, make sure to review the government’s rules for passport photos. Also, to make the passport application process go faster, consider submitting your application through a private passport expediting company. You’ll get personalized customer service from passport professionals, and since your application is delivered by hand to the US Department of State, you’ll get much quicker processing times, too. An expediting company can get your passport application processed in as little as 24 hours!