The complete guide on “Can you smile in a passport photo?”

Applying for a passport and visa is a mandatory process you have to go through whenever you want to visit a foreign country (either for tourism or a business trip).


Whenever you apply for a passport or a visa, you have to come across a tedious process where you have to fulfil the government’s regulations to get these documents.


Out of which they regulate a lot of rules for the person’s passport photos from their pose, expressions to even their choice of clothing, etc.


Each country’s government implement these rules for security and identification purpose.


While we have broken down some of the most common passport photo requirements its time to clear some of the unanswered questions about passport photos i.e, “can you smile in a passport photo?”


In this article, we are going to discuss on;


  • How smiling for a passport photo works effectively?

  • U.S regulations regarding smiling in a passport photo

  • Other major country’s regulations

  • Can you smile for a passport photo?


So, let’s dive right in.

Can smiling helps to reduce identity frauds?

Whether to apply for ID cards and passports, a Passport photo plays a significant part in our lives but, due to the rise in technology we are coming across one of the modern problems that are the increase of identity frauds.


So, to improve accuracy rates and to reduce identity frauds, a study conducted by the University of York on “Why a toothy smile makes it easier for you to be identified“.


In that study, they have concluded that having a closed mouth smile for a passport photo increases the chances of accuracy and can make face matching decisions much easier.


From the studies, we can safely assume to have at least a “closed-mouth smile in passport photos”.


But, These are just studies and none of them gonna makes a dent in the rules unless the country’s government mentions it in their passport photo rules.


These were the results we came up with when analyzing some of the most popular country’s passport photo rules.

U.S regulations for smiling in a passport photo

In the U.S they allow you to have an open mouth smile for a passport.


Any other things like an unexaggerated smile may result in cancellation of the passport application.


Even they have classified the difference between a natural and an unnatural smile with the help of a photo sample.

can you smile in a passport photo
unnatural smile not aaccepted

Here you can see in the samples that the U.S government prefers you to have a natural smile in your passport photos.


So, it is safe to say that you can have a natural smile in passport photos at least in the U.S.

Other major country's regulations

While analyzing some of the major countries like U.K, Canada, Australia, the results came out to be different than that of the U.S.


Here they are giving instructions to people to have a neutral expression. Even the natural smile is not encouraged by the government.

Australia passport photo requirements
Australian Passport Photo Guidelines
UK passport photo guidelines
U.K Passport Photo Guidelines
canadian passport photo guidelines
Canadian Passport Photo Guidelines
schengen visa photo guidelines
Schengen Visa Photo Guidelines

Here are some of the screenshots that we have taken from the official websites of the major countries encouraging you to have a neutral face.


When analyzing further on this, we found that countries like the U.K, Canada, Australia use a different type of face recognition algorithm to read your face which makes it harder to recognize if you smile for the photo.


This makes the countries encourage you to have a neutral expression on the passport photos.

Can you smile in a passport photo?

After analyzing every country’s photo requirements we still have this question; Are smiling is encouraged by some other countries for their passport photos?


The short answer is “it depends based on the country you live and visit”. Most countries suggest a neutral facial expression. So when in doubt, its better to not smile and maintain a neutral facial expression.


To make things easier, we have come up with all the country’s passport, visa and other ID photos requirements to know the basic requirements regulated by each country.

Found this useful

We hope that you learned something from this article regarding smiling for a passport photo.


Now we’d like to hear from you: Does this article had a detailed explanation of smiling on passport photos?



Or maybe, you have some other questions regarding passport photos. Either way, go ahead and leave a quick comment below right now.

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