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When renewing my US passport, I need to send a 2" × 2" photo in to the State Dept. Is that just the size of the photo image or the size of the whole thing? That is to say, can I print my 2×2 photo on 3×5 paper and send that in with a white border?

  • 2" x 2" means square. Interesting, I thought passport picture are always rectangles. Are all US passport pictures square? – Belle-Sophie Jan 27 '17 at 18:50
  • @pnuts because my snips might not be perfect enough? I dunno, I figure they have some cropping machine that trims it to the exact size? – Nick T Jan 27 '17 at 18:59
  • Use a photo cutter... or paper cutter. They are about $12 at walmart... – maplemale Jan 27 '17 at 19:00
  • I do not know about where you live, but here when you get passport photos taken in a shop they happily cut them to size for you, with a machine which will always get the size right. – Willeke Jan 27 '17 at 19:07
  • @pnuts Not sure about the UK... but I have a mix of Canadian and US passports in my family... the Canadian ones are a LOT more ridged in various ways and a bit different. Example: You can't smile in a Canadian passport... and they seem a lot more picky about sizes and trimming. – maplemale Jan 28 '17 at 3:27
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The exact rules read "Photo should be 2”x2” (51 x 51 mm) with the head centered and sized between 1” and 1.4” (25 and 35 mm)."

This: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/photos/photo-examples.html

Shows multiple examples of OK and not OK photos. I see no examples where a 2x2 photo on a larger media is OK. We personally cut our photos 2 x 2 and have never had an issue (very straight/even with a photo cutter)

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    ... which seems to tell us that the required tolerance on the cutting is 1 mm or better (otherwise they would probably have written 5 cm rather than 51 mm), but that it doesn't need to be better than 0.2 mm (since that is the difference between 2" and 51 mm). – Henning Makholm Jan 28 '17 at 9:15
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    @HenningMakholm I think you're probably reading too much into that. – David Richerby Jan 28 '17 at 13:21
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2X2 is the size of the whole thing or paper. For exact measurements of the image itself, see:

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/photos/photos.html

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/photos/photo-composition-template.html

It answers all your questions.

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