Choosing the Smartest Options in Passport Photos


For official identity documents it is mandatory to use a passport photo that meets so-called ‘biometric’ requirements. These requirements have been drawn up by the Ministry of the Interior. By setting this standard, an automated analysis of passport photos is possible. Regarding the passport photos this is important.

The Acceptance Criteria

The acceptance criteria for passport photos include dimensions, quality, posture and facial expression. The criteria are checked with various tools, such as the official photo matrix of the ministry, a template and special software. If your passport photo does not meet the biometric requirements, it will be resolutely rejected by the government agency, such as the municipality.

You need a biometric passport photo for a large number of identity documents. These are for example your passport, driver’s license or an identity card. Having the photo meet all the requirements set by the government can be quite complex. Many things have to be taken into account. If one thing is wrong, then it is not accepted. That is why most people have their passport photo taken in an online photo machine, with a professional photographer or in a passport photo booth. This way you can be sure that your passport photo will not be rejected.

Official requirements for your biometric passport photo in a nutshell

Photographs used for official documents must meet a number of specific conditions. We would like to summarize these criteria.

The official dimensions are 3.5 x 4.5 cm

There are many requirements for an official passport photo that the photo must meet, so that this photo is recognized for a passport or proof of identity. The various points are described in detail below. The various rules and the errors that can be avoided are described on the basis of the Fotomatrix 2007 of the Ministry of the Interior.

Photo quality

The quality of a passport photo used for an official document must meet a number of specific requirements. First of all, a color photo must be used for all official documents. The photo must be sharp and detailed and the contrasts must be clearly distinguishable. The passport photo must give a natural image of what the person actually looks like and the similarities must be very clearly perceptible. Damaged photos, copies and edited photos will never be accepted for official documents. The photo must be in good condition and printed on high-quality, smooth photo paper. The photo must be at least 400 dpi.


If a passport photo is to be used for an official document, the background of the photo is also important. The colors of the background may vary from light gray to light blue or white. However, no combination of these colors may be used: the background must consist of one color and there must be no color gradient between these colors. Colors other than these are not permitted at all. It is also important that the background of the passport photo is smooth. No shadows or other disturbing elements should be visible in the background. Finally, there must also be sufficient contrast on the photo between the head and the background.

View face

Of course the face on a passport photo must be clearly visible, but this is not all. Here too, a number of additional specific requirements are set. The face must be completely visible. Locks of hair that fall on the face, for example, are not allowed, even if this is the normal hairstyle.

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