The Basics Travel Guide

Free or Cheap Passport Photos – Quick and Easy!

passport photo
Written by Charlie

A simple guide to getting cheap passport photos quickly and easily! In fact, you could even get them for free if you already have the paper and ink!

We have come a long way from having to go to a particular shop to get your passport photos done – and paying over $10 for a single set (you can still do that, if you want!). It is possible to do it yourself and have them done quickly, easily, and even free! Here is how to get free or cheap passport photos!

Free or Cheap Passport Photos – Quick and Easy!

cheap passport photos

Do your own passport photo easy and free!

I remember a time when the passport acceptable facilities would say that photos taken at home were not acceptable. Now, even the State Department shows you how to do it! Here is how to do cheap passport photos, where you are just paying for the paper and ink.

Smartphone Passport Photo App for Cheap Passport Photos


A great and easy way to start is with a smartphone app. Smartphone cameras are already very good quality and can easily do the job for this. There are several apps out there but the one that I have used successfully several times is called Passport Photo. It has a guide for taking the shot and will even let you pick which country this is for (as some countries have different size guidelines). You can then save it to your phone. It does charge $1.99 for the app if you want to remove ads (or you just “x” out of them).

Other apps should work as well, but this is one that I have used with perfect success and it is freeIt is available for iOS and coming soon for Google devices.

State Department Passport Photo Template

cheap passport photos

The State Department’s passport photo guide

Passport Photo Template Link

The next step in my process is to take the photos and use the tool that the State Department provides to make sure it fits within their guidelines. It is very easy to follow the instructions and then you can crop it to make it perfect.

The best part about this template is that it will save the photo to your computer at the perfect dimensions for printing. Which takes us to the next step.

Print Your Passport Photo

To print your passport photo, all you really need is a decent printer and glossy photo paper. I have printed these photos on a $30 printer without an issue and photo paper can often be found for cheap or free. If you are printing it to a 4×6 paper, it will print the photo right in the middle or you can select to print two photos on the same page.

Passport Photo Tips

Here are some tips from the State Department that will help you take the best photos the first time.

  • Make sure the photo presents the full head from the top of the hair to the bottom of the chin
  • Center the head with the frame
  • The person in the photo should have a neutral expression and be facing the camera
  • To view more composition and lighting tips, check this page

Some tips to remember:

  • Must be against a white background
  • Lighting should be even so there are no shadows
  • Try to position the person in front of a window to get the natural light
  • You can use something like a reflector for the white background so you can take the photo anywhere and it does not have to be against the wall


Being able to do-it-yourself passport photos is a great way to get cheap passport photos quickly and easily. I have literally gone from start to printed in less than 5 minutes – and without even leaving the house. This can work whenever you are in a pinch or if you just want to do your passport photo for free!

We have done this several times now and never been turned away for passport acceptance. If you do it right, you should have no problems either. Enjoy your cheap passport photos (free, even!)!

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.