Cheap Passport Pictures (Part Two): Online Ordering

by Nora Dunn on 24 September 2009 16 comments

A year and a half ago, I wrote a post about how to fashion your own passport photos for under a dollar. It seemed that I wrote it at the dawn of the popularization of online passport picture organizations. Now, the process for making your own passport pictures on the cheap is much easier.

Below are four online passport photo companies, each offering varying levels of service (with corresponding costs). Wise Bread readers attest to their happiness with the first two organizations, and any readers who have tried the other two are welcome to chime in with comments.

ePassportPhoto.com

Basics

Upload a digital photo, use their sizing assistance to crop and position the shot, and they arrange six shots onto a 4x6 photo as a jpeg file for you to print (or get printed).

Cost

The basic service above is free.

For $6, you can select the Premium service, which includes a professional compliance verification to ensure your photo will be approved with the passport application’s latest standards (99% approval rate), printing on high-quality paper, and shipping to any address (either US or international).

Countries Covered

ePassportPhoto makes a huge range of international passport photos available (more than 60), as well as visa and citizenship photos for some countries.

Delivery

Because it is largely an online service, anybody anywhere can use ePassportPhoto. Users in the States will also appreciate same-day availability for pick up at Walgreens.

Tips

Follow the guidelines for how to take a good passport photo carefully. There is no editing available; only self-serve cropping with cross-checks to ensure your photo will be compliant.

PassportPictures.org / PassportPhotosOnline.com

Basics

Upload a digital photo, they will edit it as necessary to eliminate background flaws, shadows, and adjust lighting, and then they will produce passport pictures for you in a variety of formats depending on your location and preference.

Note: PassportPictures.org was launched in 2007, and the recently launched PassportPhotosOnline.com is an affiliate carrier. The services are the same between the two sites.

Cost

At $15 for 6 photos, it is not the cheapest service around, but the post-processing service may be worthwhile if you are struggling to take the perfect passport picture at home.

Countries Covered

Passport photos can be produced for any country in the world (except Canada, where the the photographer is required to sign the back of the photo). Travel visa and citizenship photos are also provided for a variety of countries.

Delivery

Completed passport pictures can be emailed to the user for printing. Pictures can also be mailed to a US address, or made available for same-day pick up at Walgreens.

Tips

Despite the editing services, certain requirements must be met in order to produce a valid passport photo. The photo must be good enough to begin with that the subject (ie: you) does not need altering or modification.

This service also boasts a customer support phone number which connects you to a representative who can answer your questions as necessary.

OnlinePassportphoto.com

Basics

Upload your digital photo, they will edit it for background, exposure, and lighting/shadow flaws, and they will produce passport photos for you in a number of formats depending on your location and preference.

Cost

$6 will get you 6 passport photos. In other countries, they will produce up to eight photos for $6.95.

Countries Covered

Although not fully comprehensive, the list of countries for which passport and (some) visa photos can be produced for is not bad, and they will make every attempt to fulfill your request if the country you need is not on their list.

Delivery

The final product can be emailed to any address, mailed to US residents, or made available in as little as 24 hours at a local Walgreens or CVS store.

Tips

Since not all digital photos will suffice for compliance purposes (even with editing), they recommend that you email them your photos for pre-approval. Once they receive a photo that they believe is usable, they will email you an invoice through Paypal.

If the photos are rejected for any reason, OnlinePassportPhoto will either give you a refund or provide another set of photos at no cost.

portraitbooth.com

Basics

Upload your photo, crop it, and make a jpeg sheet that you can download and print (or have printed).

Cost

Free.

Countries Covered

Only US passports are truly covered, but there are a few sizing options which may suit the country’s passport or visa requirements that you are after.

Delivery

Being a fully online service, you could be anywhere to download and print your spiffy new passport photos.

Tips

There is no editing service available shy of self-serve cropping, so pay special attention to taking a picture that heeds the specific requirements for your passport photo (ie: background, lighting, proportions, etc).

These are but four of what could be many online passport picture services out there. Does anybody have experience with these four companies above, or any others you would like to mention?

 

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Guest's picture
Guest

I need remember to bug my wife into getting her passport so we can eventually travel somewhere. Thanks

-Dan Malone-

Guest's picture
Sandra

I took my husband's picture against a white wall, popped out the memory card and made a print in my printer. Then I measured the size of his head and adjusted the percentage to the guidelines on the passport application. Popped it back into the printer/scanner/copier, made two copies and trimmed them to the specs. Took about 15 minutes total.

Nora Dunn's picture

DIY passport photos are along the lines of what I discussed in Part One of this series. If you have the patience and relevant software to do it on your computer, go ahead! It seems that some of these services above (the free ones anyway) do pretty much the same thing, without you having to whip out a ruler or double check the requirements yourself.

Guest's picture

From what I read at http://travel.state.gov/passport/

" Copied or digitally scanned photos of photos will not be accepted. In addition, photos must not be retouched to alter the customer''s appearance in any way."

Guest's picture

The local post office will take passport photos for a few bucks that meet all federal requirements.

Guest's picture
Lisa B.

We do the DIY photos on a computer, burn them onto a disc and take them to a drugstore and print them out, and cut them afterwards.

Once we took our disc to Rite-Aid to print out 2 pics, which total a 4X6 print in size, which amounts to $.29. The Luddite behind the counter called the manager on me and accused me of somehow breaking into Rite-Aid's passport photo system and using it. I tried to explain to her that we did it at home, copied our photos to a disc and brought the disc from home to print out on their self-serve machine. Neither she nor the manager got it, and I had to go to corporate level to get my $.29 photo. So be careful who's behind the counter.

We got into and out of Japan just fine with these.

Guest's picture
Jessica

This seems a little over-the-top.

Just go to Walgreens and spend $7 and wait 10 minutes for the photos to develop. I believe I got 2 photos for the $7.

This way you can guarantee your passport application will be accepted the first time, and you won't waste time messing with other websites and waiting for delivery.

I then went straight to the post office and turned in my passport application with photos.

Why make things difficult? I guess it might be worthwhile to go with an online company if you needed to order multiple passports (for an entire family?) to save a minimal amount of money. Or if you live in the middle of nowhere.

But how much is your time worth? I'd rather spend $7 and have it done in 10 minutes than spend up to an hour taking my own photo, uploading it on the computer, submitting it to the website, waiting for the final product & downloading it, and then taking that photo down somewhere else to get it printed and waiting some more at the store!

Guest's picture
Cass

I have read that some passport photos from drug stores that advertise passport photos are rejected by the US State Dept - you would hope that you are getting photos that would be acceptable but I don't think it is guaranteed.

Also, for people, getting a good shot is difficult. Are you going to stand there at the drug store, asking the employee to "take just one more" shot because the other photos look awful? At least if you or a friend takes the photo, you can take as many as you want, and in a more relaxed setting.

It all depends on whether you would rather pay for convenience (in which case, you can just get your photo taken at the post office and turn in your application at the same time!) or if you would rather spend some time, spend less money and be in charge of the experience. I'd choose the latter but not everyone would feel the same way.

Guest's picture
Tanya

I had my pics rejected at the post office today done by CVS - excellent photos - I went back to CVS - corrected the problem - went back to the post office - and they rejected the same photo that CVS fixed - for a completely different reason they didn't state the first time. The post office was trying to convince me to get the pics redone by them - for 14 bucks for 2 - after I paid the 7.99 to CVS. I think it is a way for the govenment to make more money.

I have to get new pics done.

I quess I have to use the post office or the people there just won't allow me to mail it in at all.

I am considering using a different po in another town with the same photo - which I still don't understand why they rejected it.

They said they have new guidelines - but I can't find them online and they didn't have a copy of it.

I don't know what to do.

My other family members got theirs super fast using the same place for photos.

It makes no sense.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

One of the themes I'm seeing here is about rejection; it seems that no pictures are guaranteed to be accepted...heck even the post office could take a bum shot. So even if you pay to have your photos done, know what the guidelines are (as long as they're not constantly changing!) and make sure they're adhering to them, to save you the hassle of a rejected photo and more running around.

Guest's picture
Guest

You can use http://idphoto4you.com website to create valid passport photos.
It knows numerous passport standards and print sizes.
It uses face detection so very easy to use.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

@Guest (above) - Thanks for the link to idphoto4u. Looks good! Cheers.

Guest's picture
apate016

many times, if you need a picture taken, the company that you use to get your passport can help you. when i got my passport they gave me a number of options that were local.

i think i used http://www.uspassportnow.com

they have a phone number you can call too. just a thought

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

@apate016 - The service you mention above appears to be a full-service organization that expedites your passport application. As such it's a great service....but one you'll pay for. If you're in a hurry or don't have time in your life to organize getting a passport, it's a great way of outsourcing. Otherwise though, I think there are cheaper ways to do it.

Guest's picture
Sandra

It's extremely important to have your passport on you at allll times while you're on vacation.

Guest's picture
Guest

When I got my passport the first time and when I renewed it last year, I just went to the County Clerk's office. In under 15 minutes I had an acceptable picture for free and turned it in with my application on the spot. When the person approving the picture takes the picture, it certainly helps, and you can't beat free.