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Why your passport photo smile can't be too "expressive."

State Department guidelines say you need to have a "neutral" look in your passport photo.

ATLANTA — ATLANTA—It’s okay to say “cheese” when you pose for your passport photo, but be careful about how much you smile.

If your grin is too “expressive,” your passport application just might be rejected.


The U.S. State Department wants is a “neutral” look on your face. Passport guidelines state a “natural” smile is acceptable, but not a smile that is overly expressive.

“Yes, you can smile in your passport photo, just not too big,” says Tracy Stewart, Content Editor at Airfarewatchdog.com.

The State Department is following standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization. Spokesperson William Raillant-Clark points to ICAO guidelines that call for photos that “ensure compatibility with facial recognition systems” used to ensure the photo is an accurate representation of the person holding the passport.

Glasses are also a “no no” in passport photos because they can distort your features or cause a glare.


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