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The Chinese government has a really specific list of requirements for visa photos:

enter image description here

I had an old unused photo from last time I applied for a visa or passport, and compared it to the requirements (decided not to use it because it was damaged). It seemed to match most of the requirements, except that it seems that they want a photo which isn't square: The required width is less than the required height.

Assuming most drugstores are still providing square passport photos, the question becomes: Should I cut the photo to match the specified width?

What adds to the confusion is if you look at the visa application form the box for the photo is nearly square, not the oblong shape in the requirements. And I have seen other advice that you need to make sure it fully fits the box.

Any advice about what to do here?

  • 1
    FWIW I just got a Chinese visa in Canada. I was given the very same requirements image. I got my picture at a "passport" picture counter in a drugstore. To me, it looked just like my (Canadian) passport picture in terms of size and proportions. I got the visa no problem. The people sitting next to me got theirs at Costco and theirs looked slightly larger than mine; they also had no problem. – Kate Gregory Oct 19 '17 at 21:24
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    Good to hear. I ended up measuring and cutting it to 1mm greater than the specified size, since I figured it was better to be a bit too big than a bit too small. Handing it in tomorrow, wish me luck! – Stephen Oct 19 '17 at 21:49
  • BTW it's pretty easy to see that the reason they're so specific is that they'll probably feed it into the government's facial-recognition system: theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/01/… – Stephen Oct 20 '17 at 2:24
  • @hippietrail surely you could help with this one? :) – JonathanReez Supports Monica Nov 17 '17 at 18:00
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The photo size is 48mm (height) x 33mm (width).

According to the Embassy of the PRC in Philippines:

基本申请材料

三、照片:小2寸(48mm×33mm)6个月内近照、正面、彩色、免冠护照照片2张,请将其中1张粘贴在申请表上。详细照片规格要求请点击这里。

小2寸 is the Chinese measurement unit used for a passport (link in Chinese).

Also since January 2017 the requirement became more strict. Before that it is OK to have a smaller size (4x3) but it is rejected. I'm not sure if it is OK to have a bigger size, though.


When I googled it is the Philippines that popped up first, but I'm sure it is consistent with other countries.

  • I just found the attached photo describes it is 48mm x 33mm... – Blaszard Nov 17 '17 at 19:54
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One more anecdote: I applied for a Chinese visa in Sydney using a standard Australian 45x35mm passport photo, several mm shorter and wider than the Chinese 48mm×33mm standard and with different requirements for height of head (32-36mm vs 28-33mm) etc, and it was accepted without a second glance.

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My husband just applied for a PRC visa from the Consulate General in San Francisco. Numerous people with typical "passport" photos were turned away, some after waiting for hours to be called to the drop-off window. Someone there also said they were not accepting manually cropped photos. Best to use a specialized photographer (like at a visa service, you can just buy the photo from them without having to pay for their messenger service).

  • Welcome to the site! I've also heard the advice that one should get an actual photographer to take photos for Chinese visa applications, so I think this is a useful answer. Do take a look at our site tour and I hope you stick around! – David Richerby Nov 22 '17 at 10:39

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