Can You Wear Glasses in Passport Photo? A Comprehensive Guide

Gone are the days when people used to get away with wearing glasses in their passport photos. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has released new standards, which many countries have adopted, and individuals are now required to remove their glasses in their passport photos. But why is this the case? In this guide, we will explore the reasons behind these new standards and what they mean for you.

Key Takeaways

  • The ICAO has released new standards requiring individuals to remove their glasses when taking passport photos.
  • Many countries have adopted these new standards, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, among others.
  • The reason for this change is to improve the facial recognition technology used by border security agencies to keep travelers safe.
  • Individuals with special medical conditions that require them to wear glasses can be exempted from these rules, but they need to provide the necessary documentation.
  • It is important to check the specific passport photo requirements for your country of origin or your destination to avoid any issues.

Why Can’t You Wear Glasses in Passport Photos?

At first glance, the idea of removing glasses in passport photos seems trivial, especially since many people wear them every day. However, software that border security agencies use to verify identities and discourage duplication relies on various facial features, including the eyes. The facial recognition algorithm needs to see the eyes clearly to work effectively.

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Although you might not notice it, glasses can obscure the eyes, reflections, and glare from the lenses can also reduce the accuracy of a facial recognition match.

Which Countries Require Clear Passport Photos?

Several countries require individuals to remove their glasses before taking passport pictures. Some countries have specific exceptions, which we will cover later in this article. The following countries have implemented these regulations:

  • The United States
  • The United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • China
  • Japan
  • South Korea

Are There Exceptions to This Rule?

There are situations where individuals with certain medical conditions that require them to wear glasses can still wear them in their passport photos. Listed below are some of the exceptions:

Medical Documentation

Individuals who have a medical condition that necessitates them to wear glasses could be exempted from the ‘no glasses rule.’ They must present sufficient medical documentation that supports the wearing of glasses, signed by a relevant medical practitioner.

Religious Reasons

Individuals with deeply held religious convictions that require them to keep their headgear or glasses on in public are similarly required to submit proof of their beliefs. Religious attire or glasses must not make a specific face feature unrecognizable.

War Veterans

In some instances, War veterans that have been injured, who are still recuperating, or persons who have sustained facial injury and have permanent scars may wear glasses. They must provide sufficient documentation that adequately supports their condition.

Individuals that do not fall under any of the categories mentioned above must remove their glasses when taking a passport photo.

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What Are the Passport Photo Standards?

While most countries require specific dimensions and quality of the passport photo, there are general standards that apply. The standards stipulate that the photo should feature:

  • A headshot with a white background.
  • The individual should stare directly into the camera with their eyes clearly visible.
  • The head must be centered within the passport frame.
  • The photo has to be in color.

The photos must be up to standard, or the passport application might get rejected.


In conclusion, removing glasses in passport photos has become mandatory in many countries, although various exceptions are available to avoid discrimination. Still, it is quite easy to obtain an acceptable passport photo without the use of glasses following the established guidelines, and individuals might have to take a closer look at the regulations in place to avoid any issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I take a passport photo without glasses?

A: You can follow the established guidelines. Ensure that the photo features a headshot with a white background, and the individual stares directly into the camera with their eyes clearly visible.

Q: How do I know if my country has adopted these new standards?

A: You can check with any government agency that handles passport services in your country.

Q: Can you wear sunglasses in passport photos?

A: No, you cannot wear sunglasses in your passport photo. Similar to glasses, they will obscure your eyes’ view so that facial recognition technology cannot detect them.

About the Author

Clifford Thompson

Clifford is a 33-year-old Asian-American travel blogger based in Seattle, Washington. He has a degree in computer science and has traveled to over 30 countries across six continents. Clifford is experienced in navigating the visa and passport application process and shares his knowledge and insights on the blog. His articles are informative and engaging, providing readers with practical advice and recommendations for international travel.

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