Having had to renew my passport for an upcoming trip, I set about researching cheap passport photos and where I could get them. I looked at several options, between doing it on my own or having them done in-store at like a pharmacy or post office.
U.S. State Department Photo Requirements
First off, you can find the photo requirements here on the State Department website. I’ve included a brief summary below. For more details please check the website.
Photo Basics – color photo, clear face, no selfies, no glasses, plain white/off-white background
Resolution, Print Size, and Quality – not blurry or grainy, 2×2 inches, no digital alteration
- Pose and Expression – neutral expression, full face in view.
- Attire – no glasses, uniforms, hat or head coverings, headphones, wireless hands-free (such as bluetooth) devices. Religious exceptions are okay, same as jewelry, facial piercings, tattoos, etc, so long as the face is not obscured
Print Your Own
First off, you can certainly print your own, via an App such as passportbooth or taking your own photos and having them printed for pennies at your local pharmacy or photo printing place. These are practically free (only something like 29 cents per photo) – however there have been instances where places refuse to print them for you, although these anecdotes are few and far between. Moreover, this requires you to follow the above requirements perfectly, and take the proper photos with the proper lighting. I was super paranoid about my photos not getting accepted so I wanted to see where I could have them done and printed for me.
Professional In-Store Options
You could have them done at your local pharmacy, such as Walgreens ($14.99), Rite Aid, or CVS ($14.99), for about $10-18 depending on the location and if there are any discounts or sales. However, I found this price obscene and kept shopping around. Walmart wasn’t bad – for $7.44 – however there was not a convenient location near me.
Similarly, you can take your photo and mail in your application at the post office, who takes photos for $11.99.
I found that Costco – a warehouse membership club – was the best deal, at just $4.99. It was quick and easy, and took just a few seconds to get the photos taken. It took a bit longer to get the photos printed, but it gave me time to go shopping. Note, this club membership is $60/year, but for those with easy access to Costco and membership then it makes sense.
They put it into a nice little booklet with your two passport photos, and send you on your way. $5.34 after tax (for me) and it was great.
Thankfully, you only have to renew once every 10 years or so, so this won’t be on my mind for a while. After mailing it in (not expedited) it says it will take about 6-8 weeks to receive my new updated passport. You’ll also get your old passport back in a separate mailing. Hopefully this helps you prioritize where to go and save you some time and money. Let me know if you found this useful in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to the TravelUpdate newsletter for more hotel reviews and money-saving tips!
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