As part of changing my last name when I got married, I also had to apply for a new passport. Since I have all the equipment necessary, I had my husband take a photo for me and we saved a few dollars. It’s pretty easy actually if you have a digital camera. The government has an online tool that you can use to upload your photo and re-size it correctly. The passport fees now are $110. Seems pretty hefty but at least it lasts for ten years. My last passport actually just expired this year too so it was perfect timing.
I completely forgot about it since I sent it off a month ago. A few days ago, my husband comes home from work carrying the mail with my new passport! I told him to open it right away because I wanted to see how the photo turned out. My last passport photo was horrible in my opinion. He opened it up and then could barely keep himself from laughing… it was not a good photo! The photo I had sent off was perfectly fine actually, but what is printed on my passport definitely doesn’t match! There is a big difference between the original and what is now on my passport. When I saw it, I was holding back laughing out loud too! Somehow they made me look 10 years older and like I had gained 20 pounds. I don’t know what they do to the photos they receive, but they obviously aren’t handling them that well. It looks like they took a bad photo of my photo, then decided to stretch out my face horizontally. I thought my last passport photo was bad… this was much worse! My husband and I couldn’t stop laughing after we saw it.
So it goes that sometimes you pay money for something and you don’t always get what you want. In this case, I can’t really complain to the government that my photo looks awful and ask for a refund. The only thing I can do is pay for another passport, which I certainly am not going to do. At least the passport itself is made of high quality paper and is nice and sturdy! Hopefully my next passport photo will look awesome to make up for the last two.
Even though there’s not much I can do at this point about the photo, I still did all I could to lower the cost of a passport. I took my own photo and cut it out myself. I also didn’t opt for the rush option that costs $60 more.
Give yourself time to get your passport
It took about a month since the time I sent off my application to when I received my new passport. You’re already paying $110 for the passport. $60 is a lot for rushing it. Make sure to time your passport application so that you don’t need to pay more for it!
Take your own photo
There are certain requirements for a passport photo so be sure to check the government site instructions. You have to have a neutral expression and your head has to be a certain size and placement in the 2″x2″ photo. The photo has to be taken at your eye level also. Use the online tool the government provides to re-size your photo correctly. It’s pretty handy! Then all you need to do is print it out and cut it to size. This will save you a few dollars!
Ship it safely
I did end up spending a bit more than just a first class stamp to send my application in. I wanted to make sure it got there as safely as possible so I shipped it via priority mail. The application has a lot of important information on it so I would recommend spending more to ship it safely.
Have you ever had a really bad passport photo? What about a really good one?