Real German Passport Photo: Why It Matters and How to Get It Right

Are you planning a trip to Germany? Maybe you’re moving there for work or studying abroad? Whatever the case, if you need a passport, you’ll need a valid photo that meets German government requirements. In this guide, we’ll explain why a real German passport photo matters and provide you with tips for taking a professional-looking photo that meets all the necessary requirements.

Key Takeaways:

  • A real German passport photo is a specific size and format that adheres to strict government requirements.
  • Failure to obtain a valid passport photo can result in your application being denied, causing delays or even missing your trip altogether.
  • It’s important to prepare in advance, dress professionally, and follow the guidelines to ensure your photo is accepted.

Why a Real German Passport Photo Matters

Did you know that a large percentage of passport applications are rejected due to poor-quality photos? This issue is especially prevalent among travelers who do not understand or adhere to the specific requirements set forth by the German government. In short, if your photo does not meet these requirements, your application may be denied, causing further delays and added expenses.

Moreover, an improper passport photo can lead to issues even after your application is submitted. For example, if airport security deems your photo unacceptable, you may be refused entry at the border or may be forced to submit additional documentation to prove your identity.

For these reasons, it is essential to understand the German government’s requirements for passport photos and take steps to ensure your photo meets those requirements.

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Requirements for a Real German Passport Photo

So, what exactly are the requirements for a German passport photo? Here’s an overview:

  • Dimensions: The photograph must be 35mm wide and 45mm tall.
  • Color: Passport photographs must be in color.
  • Background: The background must be plain white, free of any patterns, shadows or other marks.
  • Lighting: The lighting must be evenly balanced, with no visible shadows on the face or background.
  • Facial Expression: You must maintain a neutral facial expression, with your mouth closed and eyes open and looking directly at the camera.
  • Attire: You should wear simple, neutral clothing with no patterns, logos, or vivid colors. Consider wearing clothing that contrasts with your skin tone.

It’s worth noting that the German government has become increasingly strict about enforcing their photo requirements, with a particular focus on facial expression and attire. That said, following the guidelines we’ve outlined above should help reduce the likelihood of rejection.

Tips for Taking a Professional-Looking Photo

Now that you understand the requirements for a German passport photo, let’s talk about how to take a professional-looking photo that meets all those requirements.

  • Dress appropriately: As noted above, neutrality is key. Therefore, we recommend wearing neutral, non-reflective clothing that contrasts with your skin tone. Avoid anything with logos, patterns or vivid colors.
  • Avoid shadows: Make sure that the light source is coming from behind the camera to avoid casting any visible shadows on your face or the background. Use a well-lit room or outdoor space that is bright and free of shadows.
  • Keep it neutral: Remember to maintain a plain, neutral expression with your mouth closed, eyes open and looking directly at the camera. Avoid squinting, raising your eyebrows, or making any other facial expressions.
  • Consider facial hair: While facial hair is allowed in passport photos, it can be tricky to ensure it doesn’t obscure any part of your face.
  • Check the dimensions: Double-check the dimensions before submitting your photo to make sure that they adhere to the German government’s requirements.
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When it comes to obtaining your German passport, it’s vital to get your photo right. A rejected application due to a poor-quality photo can lead to delays, added expenses, and even missing your trip altogether. By understanding the government’s specific requirements and following our tips, you can ensure that your passport photo is professional and meets regulations.


Q: Is it Ok to smile in a German passport photo?

A: No. German authorities require a neutral facial expression with the mouth closed and eyes open and looking straight ahead.

Q: Can I take a passport photo with my smartphone?

A: Yes, you can take a passport photo with your smartphone, as long as you follow the guidelines outlined in this article.

Q: Can I wear glasses or contacts in a German passport photo?

A: Yes, you can wear glasses or contacts in your passport photo as long as they don’t obscure your eyes.

About the Author

Raymond Broady

Raymond is immigration attorney based in Los Angeles, California. He has a law degree from Harvard University and has been practicing immigration law for over two decades. Raymond is passionate about helping clients navigate the complexities of the US immigration system, and he shares his knowledge and expertise on the blog. His articles are informative and detailed, providing readers with valuable insights into US immigration policies and procedures.

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