No matter what kind of passport service you need, you’re going to need to get a new passport photo! The State Department requires that your passport photo be no more than six months old, so you can’t just pull out any old photo you have lying around. We’ve written before about passport photo requirements and about how to make sure your photo looks as good as possible. But where should you go to get your passport photo?
Today we’ll look at all the options for getting a passport photo. Any one of these options will work! The best place for you to go will depend on your priority. Do you want the most convenient option? The most glamorous? The cheapest? One of these will be right for you!
The Most Convenient Option for Passport Photos: The Drugstore
In cities and suburbs across the US, it feels like there is a chain drugstore on every corner. CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Duane Reade… you probably are already a regular at one of them!
If your drugstore has a photo counter — and almost all of them do — you can get your passport photo taken right there. This is by far the most convenient option. The store is nearby, you don’t need to make an appointment, and your photo will be printed while you wait. You can even do some shopping while you wait. Where else can you get milk, tissues, a new shade of lipstick, and your passport photo, all in one stop?
You’ll save time by getting your photos at the drugstore, but you can expect to pay $10 to $15 for a set of two photos.
The Cheapest Option for Passport Photos: AAA
Your AAA membership is good for more than just flat tires! You probably think that AAA is just for roadside assistance, but every local AAA office also offers passport photo service.
If you have a AAA Plus or AAA Premier membership, you can get your passport photo taken for free. That’s right, FREE. Plus members can get two free sets of passport photos every year, and Premier members get unlimited free passport photos. Bring the whole family!
AAA Classic members don’t get free passport photos, but you’ll pay just $8 per set. This is less than you’ll pay at the drugstore.
The Most Glamorous Option for Passport Photos: Professional Photographer
A true diva isn’t going to settle for a mediocre passport photo. No, darling. Do you think that the late, great Prince had his epic final passport photo taken at Rite Aid? I don’t think so! If you want the most glam-tastic passport photo possible, head to a professional photography studio. There, you can have your photo taken against a white studio backdrop, with professional lighting to help you look your best. Really want to take it over the top? Go ahead and book a professional makeup artist, too.
You’ll need to make sure that your photographer understands the State Department’s photo requirements for passports. Also, let them know that your photo may not be retouched in any way!
The High Tech Option for Passport Photos: Do It Yourself
It used to be unusual for average people to have access to high-quality photo equipment, but not anymore! You’ve probably got a high-resolution digital camera in your pocket right now… or maybe it’s in your hands as you read this article. Yes, your smartphone camera is good enough to take a passport photo!
To take a good DIY passport photo, you’ll need to have a spot with a plain white wall and good lighting. You’ll also need a friend to snap your photo. Do not try taking a selfie! The forward-facing camera on most phones does not take clear enough photos for a passport. It’s also very hard to get the photo angle and body position right if you take a selfie.
Once you have a photo you like, format it to the correct dimensions by using a smartphone app like Passport Photo Booth, or by uploading it to a website like PassportPhoto4You. You can then get your photo printed in one of three ways:
- Print them at home – you’ll need to have a good-quality color inkjet printer and photo paper.
- Order prints from the app or website – you’ll have the option to purchase prints directly from most photo-formatting apps or websites. Expect to pay $5 or so for this service. The printed passport photos will then be mailed right to your house.
- Have your photos printed at the drugstore – the app or website you use will format your photos to print out on standard 4″x6″ photo paper. You can send the photo to your favorite drugstore to be printed, just like any other snapshot. It should cost about 50 cents to have a single sheet of passport photos printed, or even less if you find an online coupon! You will have to stop by the drugstore to pick up the photo, but that’s OK. You wanted to get milk and that new lipstick anyway, right?
The Do It Yourself option gives you the most control over the finished passport photo. That’s why we think it’s an especially good option for babies and wiggly young kids! It’s also a close runner-up for Cheapest, beaten out only by those free passport photos for AAA members.