How to Print Passport Photos With Photoshop

Updated March 23, 2017

When applying for a U.S. passport, you must submit two photographs with your application to be printed inside your passport. While many professional photographers and portrait studios offer passport photo services, you can also print your own photographs at home. The U.S. Department of State accepts passport photos printed from home as long as they adhere to the government's passport photo guidelines. You can use photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop to create your passport photos.

Create a passport photo background that conforms to the Department of State's guidelines (see References 1). The background should be white or off-white with no obstructions. There should also be adequate lighting that does not cast a shadow on the subject.

Take several photos of the subject from the front. Capture the subject's full face in the photo. The person should not wear a hat or allow hair to cover the face. The person should also maintain a natural expression. If the subject usually wears glasses, the glasses should be worn for the passport photo.

Transfer the photos from your camera to your computer via a USB cable or by inserting the camera's memory card into your computer. Note that not all computers have slots to read memory cards, so you may have to transfer the photos through USB.

Open Adobe Photoshop and review the photos you transferred onto the computer. Choose the clearest photo that conforms with all of the Department of State guidelines for a passport photo.

Locate the measure tool to begin sizing your image. The measure tool is located on the main toolbar and features an image of a ruler.

Measure from the top of the person's head to the bottom of the chin. Make note of the "D1" value that appears at the top of the screen.

Multiply your "D1" value by a number between 1 and 1.375 to determine the DPI (dots per inch) you will be working with. Note that the larger number you use, the more you will need to trim away from the printed photo. To be on the safe side, use a mid-range number such as 1.1 or 1.2. According to the Department of State, the distance between the bottom of the chin and top of the head should be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches. This is where the multiplication factors of between 1 and 1.375 come from. Because Photoshop measures this distance in pixels, some calculations are necessary. Multiplying the "D1" value by the length requirements will assure that your photograph is correctly sized.

Multiply your DPI from Step 7 by two. This measurement will be the width and height for your passport photo, which needs to be a 2-inch square. Since your initial measurement was between 1 and 1.375, doubling the DPI obtained from your previous calculation will give an accurate DPI between 2 inches and 2.75 for the photo's dimensions.

Use the marquee tool from the main toolbar to outline your passport photo. The marquee tool is listed at the top of the toolbar and has an image of an outlined square. From the "Style" drop-down menu in the top toolbar, choose the "Fixed Size" option.

Enter the number from your calculations in Step 8 into the "Height" and "Width" fields. Place the outline around the subject's face with the nose directly in the centre of the outline.

Copy the image by pressing "Ctrl + C" or "Command + C", depending on your operating system. You may also copy the image from the "Edit" menu by selecting the "Copy" option.

Open a new file by selecting the "New" option from the "File" menu. Set the width and height of the template in inches according to your photo paper size. For example, you can set the width to 4 inches and the height to 6 inches if you are using 4" by 6" photo paper.

Set the resolution to the DPI determined in Step 7 to ensure your passport photo has proper resolution.

Insert your passport photo into the new template by selecting the "Paste" option from the "Edit" menu, or pressing "Ctrl + C" or "Command + C." Repeat this step to insert as many passport photos as you wish to print on a single sheet.

Insert your photo paper into your printer and turn it on. Select the "Print Preferences" option from the "File" menu and select the page size that corresponds to your photo paper size. Click "Print" to print your passport photos.

Cut your passport photos and trim each photo to 2" by 2". Use a trimmer or blade with a straightedge for precision.


Carefully review the guidelines and examples provided by the U.S. Department of State to ensure your photos are not rejected.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Digital camera
  • Printer
  • Photo paper
  • Paper trimmer or scissors
  • Ruler
  • Calculator (optional)
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About the Author

Marissa Willman is a Palm Springs-based travel journalist and content writer. She has been writing professionally since 2007 for such publications as, and Palm Springs Life. Willman is also the local guide for the Palm Springs section of travel website Willman holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from California State University, Fullerton.