Guide: Schengen Visa Photo Requirements and Specifications
What Is A Schengen Visa Photograph?
A “Schengen Visa Photograph” is a photo used for the Schengen Visa application that must have external dimensions of 35 mm x 45 mm (width x height) and must fulfil specific requirements (e.g., neutral facial expression, light coloured photo background, must be taken within the past six months, etc).
Submitting two identical photos is mandatory for your Visa application process.
The Schengen Visa photo requirements and specifications are set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), who is a specialised agency and a part of the United Nations – meaning that the European Union has adopted common standards regarding the Visa photograph requirements that are valid for all Schengen countries.
The Schengen Visa photos are not designed for you to reflect your personal style, but instead to clearly show the features, shape and depth of your face.
This is so that official and border authorities of the countries where you travel can easily recognise you – while the photographs are also being used to populate the Schengen Regions traveller database.
Note: Infant and baby photos must have the same size and meet the same requirements as adult photos (mouth closed, head taking 70-80% of the photo, size width 35 mm, height 45 mm, etc.).
The Importance Of Meeting The Schengen Visa Photo Requirements
The photos are a vital requirement for all Schengen Embassies/Consulates because:
- They prove you are the legitimate holder of the Visa (they are used as proof of identity, as the actual Visa sticker has your photo on it).
- A Schengen Visa sticker must show the photo of the holder in order to prevent Visa fraud (provision or transfer of someone else’s legitimate Visa).
- One of the photographs will be glued to your application form which is also an important requirement for your Visa application.
How To Get The Photos Required For Your Schengen Visa Application?
There are many ways that you can get a Visa photo and typically it does not not require a lot of your time.
● A website that provides photography services (but you take the photo yourself)
If you do not want to take and print your Visa picture yourself, you can find a website that provides photo services.
First, you will have to check if they provide Schengen Visa photography services.
In most cases, the services can be available directly in store (in this case you will have to find one store in the city where you live).
Some websites can also allow you to send them a suitable photo that they will format to the correct requirements and specifications, print it for you, and mail it directly to your house.
Depending on the website, you may pay extra to have your photos checked to make sure that they will be approved by the Embassy/Consulate officers.
Most websites that provide Schengen Visa photography services allow you to send a photo you have taken with your smartphone against any white or close-to-white background and they will help you get a professional photo for your Visa application.
● Taking the Schengen Visa photos and printing them yourself
You can take your own Schengen Visa photos by asking someone to take a picture of you using a smartphone or a photo camera.
You must ensure you have a suitable inkjet printer and photo paper (your photos cannot be printed on normal paper). Once you print the photo, you will have to manually cut the portrait out.
If you want to take your own Schengen Visa photo, we recommend you use an app (for example, Passport Photo Booth, for iOS and Android) that can help you with the photo composition.
Please note that you must print the photos on high-quality paper and the printing resolution must be of at least 600 dpi (image definition parameters).
● A self-service photo taking and printing kiosk (our recommendation)
If you do not want to spend time taking and printing your own Schengen Visa photos and do not want to search for a website that can provide photography services, you can also use a self-service photo printing kiosk.
Check to see if you have a photo kiosk near the place you live and if you can use it to take photos that fulfil all of the requirements of the Embassies/Consulates for the Schengen Visa applicants’ photos.
In some countries, this can be a more expensive approach but the quickest and easiest to save your time checking the requirements listed below and re-taking photos.
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Taking The Schengen Visa Photos
Even though taking a Schengen Visa photo is easy and it does not require a lot of time, you still need to pay attention to some significant details – Remember that not following specific rules when taking the photos can cost you the approval of your Schengen Visa.
Below you will find a list of the common mistakes you must avoid when taking the Schengen Visa photographs:
● Image quality
- Printing the photos on low-quality paper – Pay attention to the quality of the paper used to print the photos, especially if you prefer taking and printing the pictures for your Visa application yourself. The clarity of the image depends also on the quality of the paper you print the photo on.
- Submitting photos that are too bright, too blurry, or with poor contrast – This can make your face appear less visible. Make sure that the image is not blurry, not too dark, and that the brightness in the photo is uniformly spread all over your face.
- Shadows, flash reflections on your face, or red-eye – No shadow or flash reflection (on your skin or on your glasses, in case you cannot take the picture without them) are allowed. We recommend you use a tool to remove red eyes if necessary.
- Unnatural skin tones – The colours in your photos do not have to be unnatural or overdone, especially your skin tones. For example, do not apply make-up that will change the complexion of your skin tone.
● Clothes and accessories
- Covered face – Wearing any kind of mask or scarf that covers your face (even if your face is covered only partially) when taking your Schengen Visa photos is forbidden. Also, make sure that your hair does not cover your face. Remember that the purpose of the Schengen Visa photos is to show your face as clearly as possible so that the official authorities can recognise and identify you.
- Wearing sunglasses, dark optical glasses, or heavy frames glasses – You might find on some Internet websites that you are allowed to wear glasses when taking your Schengen Visa photos, as long as your eyes are fully visible. However, we recommend you take off the glasses, if possible. If you cannot take them off while taking the photo, make sure that they do not have heavy frames or tinted lenses and that the frames do not cover any part of your eyes.
- Wearing a uniform – All types of uniforms are forbidden when taking the photos that must be submitted for the Schengen Visa application (such as military uniforms, flight crew uniforms, or professional uniforms). You are not allowed to wear a uniform while taking your Schengen Visa picture as long as your Visa will be applied on an ordinary passport (called also regular or tourist passport). Only a diplomat’s diplomatic passport (and not the ordinary one) is allowed to wear a uniform, in case his/her activity requires wearing a professional uniform.
- Wearing clothes that have the same colour as the one in the background – For example, a white t-shirt on a white background (this will make the photo appear less clear). We recommend you wear dark coloured clothes when taking the photos for your Schengen Visa application in order to create contrast with the light-coloured background.
- Covered head – No hat is allowed in passport photos except for religious reasons (e.g., religious headgear) as long as it isn’t covering your face at all. Muslim women are allowed to cover their heads with the hijab of headscarf as well, as long as the image of their face remains clear. Do not wear headbands or any other large hair accessories.
- Using oversized jewellery and heavy make-up – Women should avoid oversized jewellery and heavy make-up, not only because their face must remain recognisable but also because the photo will be used for an official document (meaning that their look must be as professional as possible).
● Eyes and head position
- Not looking directly at the camera – You must look directly at the camera when taking the photo. Show your eyes open as they must be clearly visible. Please consider that the photo must show you facing square on to the camera, not looking over your shoulder (portrait style) or tilted, and showing both edges of your face clearly.
● Other mistakes
- Face not centred in the picture – Even if you respect all the requirements when you take the Schengen Visa pictures, the Embassy/Consulate officers might not accept your application if your face is not centred in the photos.
- Submitting creased or ink marked photos – The photos you submit must be as new, in perfect conditions.
- Head size – Your head should take approximately 70-80% of the photo so make sure you do not stay too close or too far away when you take the photo. Your head height should be approximately 34.5 mm.
Below you will find some examples of photos that you must avoid submitting to the Embassy/Consulate when applying for your Schengen Visa:
Face non centred
Hair covering the face
Not having a neutral face expression
Not looking directly at the camera
Black and White
Too far away
Unnatural skin tone