How to print photos to a passport size

Updated April 17, 2017

Getting new passport photos done by a professional photographer can be expensive. If you're on a budget and know how to make good use of image-editing software and a home printer, you can produce quality passport photos that satisfy official standards and requirements. Bear in mind that the photo requirements, including image size, can change anytime. Stay abreast of the latest information before you do anything.

Determine the size required for the passport photos. Each country has its own passport photo requirements. For American passports, the size must be 2" x 2".

Have the pictures taken by a qualified photographer. Make sure the photographer is familiar with passport photo standards. Upload the pictures to your computer.

Open the passport photo file in an image editor. Select and copy the whole image.

Create a new blank document. Set the canvas (i.e. paper) size to passport requirements. So if the requirement is 3.5cm x 4.5cm, specify that when editing the canvas size of the file.

Paste the clipboard contents to the new document. It should be a floating object, separate from the canvas. It will probably be too large to fit within the borders of the blank document.

Move and resize the object until the person's head and shoulders fit in the frame as required. Refer to official guidelines from an embassy or consular office for the proper dimensions. Generally, you should leave ample space between the crown of the head and the top border of the picture, and the shoulders must be visible. Do not make the head too big.

Save the image as a new document when you are finished. If you plan on editing the file later on, save the picture without "flattening" the image (i.e. combining the object with the background so that it cannot be moved anymore). Otherwise you can merge the object and the background to make a single image.

Create another blank document. Make it the same size as the paper you intend to print to (e.g. 8" x 11"). Copy and paste as many copies of the passport photo into it as you need to print. Use the alignment tool of your image editor to align the objects. Save when you are done.

Make sure your printer is set to print the actual size of the document. Load glossy photo paper to the printer. Print the passport photos. After printing, use a photo cutter to cut the photos evenly.


Use the highest possible resolution when taking the photos and printing them. The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs prefers a resolution of at least 3 megapixels. Use quality photo paper and a high resolution printer. You can buy handheld photo cutters designed to cut at a specific size, such as U.S. passport and ID dimensions. Use an online passport-photo service if editing the pictures yourself is too technical for you, then print it at home or order photos.


Resizing bitmap images can affect their quality. If you shrink a picture and then increase its size again, it will lose its original crispness. If you take a picture in low resolution and you resize it, you will see the square dots ("pixels") that make up the image. Such low quality photos are unacceptable for official travel documents. If you are unsure what to do, going to a professional photo service would be a good idea.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital camera
  • Image-editing software (e.g. Photoshop)
  • Printer
  • Photo paper
  • Photo cutter (optional)
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About the Author

Jay Leon began work as a writer and blogger in 2007. Her clients have included content provider Averheld and Loudoun Rewards Club. She writes about computing, web design, the Internet and travel.