Most people can’t wear glasses in their passport photo. However, glasses may be allowed in some cases if they’re medically necessary. 

So, why is this a thing? Will you be able to wear your glasses for your passport photo? Sit tight—we hope this handy guide will answer any lingering questions you might have before embarking on your international travels.

Why Can’t Most People Wear Glasses in a Passport Photo? 

Since 2016, the U.S. Department of State has prohibited eyeglasses from being worn in passport photos. The reason for the No Eyeglass Policy comes down to two main ideas: convenience and security. 

Before 2016, passport applications were regularly denied or delayed because of issues caused by eyeglasses. A glare on the lenses, for example, would make it nearly impossible to verify the person’s eye color. Or, the glasses might alter someone’s appearance enough that confirming their identity would be more difficult.

Prohibiting eyeglasses from being worn in passport photos provides a simple solution to speed up the approval process and get passports to applicants sooner.

Exceptions: When Can You Wear Glasses for a Passport Photo? 

The government allows glasses in passport photos in some rare cases. If your glasses need to stay on for your photo for medical reasons, you must bring a medical statement signed by your doctor.

For example, if you’ve recently had eye surgery, your doctor might require you to wear your glasses for your protection when you travel. Even if your vision is severely impaired, you’ll need signed medical documentation to prove your glasses can’t be removed for the photo. If you don’t have a statement signed by a medical professional, you must remove your eyeglasses.

If you are allowed to keep your glasses on for your passport photo, you’ll still need to meet the following requirements:

  • The frames of your glasses can’t cover your eyes.
  • Glare on the lenses can’t obscure your eyes.
  • Shadows from the glasses can’t obscure your eyes.
  • Refraction (bending of light) from the lenses can’t obscure your eyes.

Can You Wear Sunglasses in Your Passport Photo?

No—sunglasses are not permitted in passport photos because they obscure your eyes from view. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a new pair or two for your international excursions!

Can Children Wear Glasses in Their Passport Photos? 

No—just like adults, children won’t be able to wear glasses in their passport photos unless there is a medical necessity. Parents will need to bring a signed medical statement if their child is medically required to keep the glasses on.

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Looking for an expert’s opinion?

If you’re unsure whether your glasses are a medical necessity for a passport photo, ask the top-notch optometrist at your next eye exam.

Tips for What To Wear in a Passport Photo 

After learning you can’t wear glasses in your passport photo, you might be wondering, “What else?” What can you wear (or not wear) in a passport photo?

Let’s take a look at some other picture-taking considerations, so you can ensure a delay-free passport application process. 


The best passport photo attire is your normal, everyday clothing. Costumes and even uniforms are prohibited when your picture is taken.

Hats or other head coverings are also not allowed, unless they’re worn for religious reasons. If that’s the case, you’ll need to turn in a signed statement that confirms the attire is part of a religious tradition and is worn in public settings. 

Makeup and Hair

When it comes to makeup, the rules are not as cut and dry. The Department of State will allow you to wear makeup in a passport photo, as long as it isn’t excessive. That means your facial features and skin tone need to appear relatively natural and not obscure your identity. 

Say “Cheese!”

The bottom line? On the day of your passport photo, just be yourself. Appear as you would on an average day—perhaps wearing contacts instead of glasses (if you have them).  

Rather than dressing up as you would for a professional photo shoot, or glamming up your makeup like you might for a night out on the town, keep your passport picture as simple as possible. That way, anyone checking your passport can easily confirm your identity and send you on your merry way.

Bon voyage!

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