Biometric passport photo

Biometric passport photos must meet many requirements in order to meet biometric suitability and be recognized as passport photos for official documents. These requirements are specified by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in cooperation with the EU and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and are defined on a photo sample board. Here they are divided into the following ten categories: Format & Size, Sharpness & Contrast, Illumination, Background, Photo Quality, Head Position & Facial Expression, Eyes & Direction of View, Eyeglass Wearer, Headgear and the Special Features for Children and Babies.

Format & Size

Biometric passport photo size To meet the requirements for biometric suitability and to be accepted as a biometric passport photo for official identification documents, the legislator has prescribed a uniform size of 3.5 x 4.5 cm for passport photos. In this case, the picture must be taken without a border and the height of the face must be approximately 70 to 80 percent of the picture from the chin line to the top of the head and must not be cropped.

In addition to the face, parts of the hairstyle, upper body and background must be visible to allow automatic identification. Accordingly, the optimum face height is at least 3.2 cm and a maximum of 3.6 cm; smaller deviations upwards or downwards are tolerated. Eyes and nose must be positioned exactly according to the specifications on the passport photo. In the image below, the dark gray area marks the minimum and maximum eye area and the exact position of the nose tip. The passport photo template on the right shows the facial height specifications addressed and the exact position of the chin line.

The suggested optimal resolution of a passport photo of 600 dpi (dots per inch) corresponds to a digital size of 827 x 1063 pixels, with a resolution of 300 dpi it is 413 x 531 pixels. For an overview of passport photo sizes and resolutions in pixels, visit

Biometric passport photo format

The four portraits below show the official specifications for the size and position of the face on biometric passport photos, with the first three images showing incorrect shots and the last showing a proper biometric passport photo. The first image shows an image of the face that is too large, the second shows the height of the face too low, and the third image shows an incorrect centering of the face. The fourth image, on the other hand, shows the correct representation of the face.

Sharpness & contrast

A biometric passport photo only meets the requirements for biometric suitability if it is sharp and has sufficient contrast. To obtain a sharp photo, it is extremely important that the focus, exposure time and distance to the subject, i.e. the person being photographed, are correct. Often the cause of a blurred image can also be a shaky shot. Here the use of a tripod can help, but also the setting of timer or remote shutter release to avoid minor vibrations.

However, a blurred passport photo can also be caused by insufficient contrast. In this case, the subjective impression of sharpness is reduced by a lack of distinction between the foreground and background, but also between the shades in the face. This effect can also be caused by overexposure of the image and must therefore be avoided at all costs for a biometric passport photo that complies with the regulations.


When taking biometric passport photos, some specifications of the legislator must be strictly adhered to in order to meet the requirements for biometric suitability and to be accepted as a passport photo for identification and travel documents. Proper lighting of the photo is required, among other things, as well as the appropriate cropping of the image or a solid color and contrasting background.

Biometric passport photo: illumination

In detail, this means that the face must be completely illuminated and must not be too dark, otherwise the shading will no longer be visible and the passport photo can no longer be automatically evaluated. Reflections in the face, i.e. overexposed areas, should also be avoided, as should areas that are partially too dark due to cast shadows.

If you want to take biometric passport photos yourself, it is very difficult to achieve an illumination that meets the requirements, because there is often a lack of professional flash equipment. Here, however, with a little ingenuity and creativity, one can set up a sufficient photo studio in which biometric passport photos can be created that meet the specifications. If the photo is taken by a professional photographer, it can generally be assumed that the image meets the requirements.


The background plays a major role in biometric passport photos so that the photo can be evaluated automatically. It is particularly important here that the background of the image is a single color and forms a good contrast to the hair, face and visible clothing of the person photographed. A dark background should be used for blond or gray hair, and a medium to dark gray background is recommended for black or brown hair.

The area visible in the background should not contain any pattern. With a professional photographer, photos are usually taken against a neutral backdrop anyway, but if the passport photo is to be taken by yourself, care must be taken to ensure that no colorful or textured wallpaper is visible. It is also to be avoided that objects such as pictures, shelves or cabinets are visible. Of course, there should also be no other people in the picture to avoid confusion.

In addition, care must also be taken to ensure that the person portrayed does not cast any shadows and that the outline of the person can be clearly seen. However, the hairstyle does not necessarily have to be shown completely, and individual strands of hair can stick out of the picture.

Photo quality

In the case of biometric passport photos, it is essential to ensure that the photo quality is of high quality and that errors are avoided both in the requirements for biometric suitability but also especially in the texture of the photo. Even when the photo is taken, care must be taken to ensure a high resolution of at least 300, but preferably 600 dpi, in order to avoid a coarse pixel structure. This resolution should also be implemented again during printing, whereby the paper plays an equally important role here. It is recommended to use high-quality brand photo paper (e.g. from Epson or Canon) in glossy, because here the colors are reproduced radiantly and rich in contrast.

Care should also be taken to ensure that the passport photo has a natural color temperature and thus reproduces the visual impression of reality at best. Unusually, a photograph will also meet biometric suitability if it is taken or printed in black and white. Finally, quality-reducing features such as creases and contaminants like ink stains in the image or other defects in the image, printing or paper must be avoided at all costs.

Head position

Head position & facial expression

Two important requirements for a biometric passport photo are the correct head position and the prescribed facial expression. Head position refers to the posture of the head, which must not be turned to the side in half-profile, nor tilted forward or backward. The head must be precisely aligned with the camera so that automated biometric identification via the face and the iris of the eye is possible.

The facial expression on passport photos claiming biometric suitability must be neutral to serious. This means that it is forbidden to laugh or smile, as the mouth must necessarily be closed. Nevertheless, to make the picture a little more beautiful, there are some tricks. It is advisable not to clench your teeth, but to keep your mouth loosely closed. In addition, you should not simply stare into the camera, but try to achieve a nice passport photo via a pleasant and sympathetic look.

Eyes & gaze direction

Eyes and gaze direction are essential for biometric passport images. Closed eyes prevent or make it very difficult to identify a person, especially if this is to be done automatically via iris recognition. In addition to the passport photo, it has been possible since the end of 2007 to store fingerprints and an image of the iris on the RFID chip of the German passport. In the biometric iris recognition method, algorithmic processes can be used to uniquely identify a person by the pattern of the iris of the eye.

In addition to the open eyes, it is equally important that the gaze is directed neither sideways nor upward or downward, but forward toward the camera. To ensure that the eyes and direction of gaze can also be recognized, no hair may cover the face or eyes.

Glasses & spectacle wearers

When taking biometric passport photos of people who wear glasses, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind. The glasses must not cover the eyes under any circumstances, as otherwise the person photographed can no longer be clearly identified either by the human eye or by automatic recognition. The eyes play a major role in determining the identity of persons, and therefore receive special attention in biometric passport photos.

People who wear glasses are advised not to take off their glasses for biometric passport photos, but to pay special attention to the requirements for the biometric suitability of passport photos. For the photographer, this means that care must be taken to ensure that the frame of the glasses does not cover the eyes when taking the photo. Wearing a visual aid with lenses that are too dark is also generally not permitted and is only accepted in special cases. Finally, care must also be taken to ensure that the lenses do not reflect the flash of the camera or any other light source, as this can obscure parts of the iris or make them unrecognizable. The fourth image shows what an optimal shot of spectacle wearers might look like.


Biometric passport photos must always be taken without head coverings such as headscarves, hats or caps. Even a complete veiling of the face, e.g. by a burka for religious reasons, is not permitted. The face may not be covered and no shadows may fall on the face that make it difficult to clearly identify the person portrayed.

However, there are exceptions to the prohibition of head coverings on biometric passport photos. Exclusively for religious reasons, head coverings are permitted as an exception, but even here strict rules apply. The face must not be covered by the headscarf or veil and must be recognizable from the chin to the forehead, as shown in picture four.

baby passport photo

Children & Babies

Although babies and toddlers grow very quickly and their eye color can change again, it is still required by law that biometric passport photos are also taken of them. Basically, the same conditions apply as for adults, but with some exceptions. The passport photo size must also be 3.5 x 4.5 cm, a sharply shot photo in front of a well-lit, neutral background with sufficient contrast must be used.

The baby must not laugh or smile in the photo and must keep its mouth closed (which of course also means that a pacifier is taboo here). It must not cry, it must have its eyes open and look straight into the camera. In addition, no other objects or people may be visible in the picture.

Create baby passport photos now

Simplifications for biometric passport photos for babies

For infants, deviations are allowed in terms of the dimensions of the subject in the photo. For example, for children up to the age of 10, the face may occupy 50 – 80 percent of the passport photo, which is 2.2 to 3.6 cm from the chin to the top of the head. For adults, the size of the face is 70 to 80 percent. If you want to make the biometric passport photos yourself, the passport photo template for children aged 6 to 9 years will help here.

Biometric passport photo: children

In the case of babies up to the completed 6th year of age, the otherwise required requirements for the biometric suitability of passport photos do not have to be met in full; simplifications and exceptions apply here. These concern deviations in head posture, facial expression, centering of the head in the image section and direction of gaze. The best images are obtained when the baby is lying on a grayish or light-colored blanket and the photos are taken from above.

What is the best color to wear for a passport photo?

There is no universal answer to this question, as the best color to wear for a passport photo will vary depending on the country’s passport photo requirements. However, in general, it is usually best to wear a dark color for passport photos, as this will help your features to stand out clearly against the background.

Should I wear my hair up or down for passport photo?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, as it depends on your personal preference. Some people prefer to wear their hair up in a bun or ponytail for passport photos, as it can help to keep their hair from obscuring their face. Others prefer to wear their hair down, as it can give them a more natural look. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which style you feel most comfortable with.

Do you have to wear a certain shirt for a passport photo?

There is no specific shirt that is required for passport photos, but the photo must be a clear, full-face image of your head and shoulders. You should wear clothing that is plain and doesn’t have any distracting designs.

Can I wear jeans for passport photo?

Yes, you can wear jeans for a passport photo as long as they are in good condition and are not ripped or faded. You should also make sure that your jeans are not too tight or too loose, as both can cause problems with the photo.

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