Rules for Canadian passport photos
Why can't I smile in my passport photo?
The International Civil Aviation Organization recommends that passport photos be taken with a neutral expression for use with facial recognition systems - advanced technology that helps prevent fraud by electronically verifying identity based on each person's unique facial features.
You must submit two (2) identical photos with each passport application.
Your photos must be:
- taken by a commercial photographer.
- 50 mm wide X 70 mm high (2 inches wide X 2 3/4 inches long) and sized so the height of the face measures between 31 mm (1 1/4 inches) and 36 mm (1 7/16 inches) from chin to crown of head (natural top of head).
- clear, sharp and in focus. Photos may be in colour or in black and white.
- taken with a neutral facial expression (eyes open and clearly visible, mouth closed, no smiling).
- taken with uniform lighting and not show shadows, glare or flash reflections.
- taken straight on, with face and shoulders centered and squared to the camera.
- taken in front of a plain white or light-coloured background with a clear difference between your face and the background. Photos must reflect/represent natural skin tones.
- original photos that are not altered in any way or taken from an existing photo.
- reflect your current appearance (taken within the last 12 months).
- professionally printed on plain, high quality photographic paper (photos printed at home and photos printed on heavy weight paper are not acceptable).
The following must be included on the back of one photo:
- the name and complete address of the photo studio and the date the photo was taken. The photographer may use a stamp or handwrite this information. Stick-on labels are unacceptable.
- your guarantor clearly write: "I certify this to be a true likeness of (applicant's name)" and sign his or her name (unless you are applying to renew a passport, as no guarantor is necessary for renewals).
- Glasses, including tinted prescription glasses, may be worn in photos as long as the eyes are clearly visible and there is no glare in the glasses. Sunglasses or photos where there is the red-eye effect are unacceptable.
- Hats and head coverings must not be worn, unless it is worn daily for religious beliefs or medical reasons. However, your full face must be clearly visible and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.
- Your hair can be down.
- Shadows are not acceptable. Lighting must be uniform to avoid shadows across the face or shoulders, around the ears or in the background.
- Child photos must follow the same rules indicated above.
- Photos must show the child's head and shoulders only. Parent's or child's hands must not appear in the photo.
- Passport Canada recognizes the difficulty in obtaining a neutral expression of a newborn and will allow for some tolerance in this regard.
- For newborn babies, the photo may be taken while the child is sitting in a car seat, as long as a white blanket is placed over the seat behind the child's head. There must be no shadows on the face or shoulders, around the ears or in the background.
- If applying for a one-time replacement passport for a child, you must include a photo that has been taken within one month of the date the application is submitted.
Acceptable photosFootnote 1
Height of face correct
Correct child pose
Shadow behind ears
Hands in picture
Reflection on glasses
Face not square to camera
Facial features not clearly visible
Your application will be rejected if your photos do not meet these specifications. An altered photo refers to any photo that has been edited or changed in any way, by any means, and includes, but is not limited to technical corrections or enhancements such as adjustments to colour, brightness, contrast and sharpness of the image, cropping around the subject’s head and shoulders (cutting and pasting the subject against a white background), editing of the facial features (changing size or shape of eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc.), editing to improve the appearance of the subject (eliminating wrinkles, blemishes, birthmarks; changing hair colour; removing red-eye; removing glare, etc.), changing the background (eliminating shadows, etc.), editing the subject’s clothing (changing colours, etc.).
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