45mm by 35mm

The proportions of your ID photo for a UK (and most of the rest of Europe) visa are 45mm by 35mm. This may be a standard size in the rest of the world, but in the US we have to be special and have our official passport photos be 2 inches by 1 inch. Needless to say, this makes taking visa photos a bit of a challenge, not helped by the stringent (but I’m sure necessary) rules.

Photo size

Your photos must be professionally printed and 45 millimetres (mm) high by 35mm wide – the standard size used in photo booths in the UK. Standard sizes in photo booths outside the UK can be different – make sure you get the right size.

You can’t use photos that have been cut down from larger pictures.

The photos

Your photos must be:

  • in colour on plain white photographic paper
  • taken against a plain cream or light grey background
  • identical
  • taken within the last month
  • clear and in focus
  • without any tears or creases
  • unmarked on both sides (unless a photo needs to be countersigned)
  • unaltered by computer software

The image of you

Your photos must show a close-up of your full head and shoulders. It must be only of you with no other objects or people.

The image of you – from the crown of your head to your chin – must be between 29mm and 34mm high (see example below).


Your photos may be rejected unless they show you:

– facing forward and looking straight at the camera
– with a neutral expression and your mouth closed
– without anything covering the face
– in clear contrast to the background
– without a head covering (unless it’s worn for religious or medical reasons)
– with eyes open, visible and free from reflection or glare from glasses
– with your eyes not covered by sunglasses, tinted glasses, glasses frames or hair
– without any ‘red eye’
– without any shadows in the picture

For the record, Walgreens is utterly useless unless you’re lucky to catch a long-time photo section employee (of which I did not). I got regular passport photos there (my fault completely for not double checking the requirements), but they turned out bad even for a government ID photo. I checked the UKBA website properly today and ran over to the post office to see if they could do the right size. The woman running the camera wasn’t entirely sure, but had a setting on the camera for “Great Britain passports” that we gave a try. Turned out to be exactly what I needed.

I’m not sure if they’ve changed the rules on US official photos since I got my passport last in 2009, but for the UK visa you can’t smile – just look “neutral” and straight at the camera. I often joke that I have a case of bitchy resting face when I’m not actively expressing some emotion as I’ve been assumed to be stuck up when I’m being quiet. I promise, I really don’t go out of my way to try to be bitchy – it’s just my face! However, I now have some rather amusing copies to prove that I actually do make that face when “neutral.”

Ahahaha. I can’t even take myself seriously. Anyway, all of this reminded me of a great medical parody commercial for BRF and I thought it was perfect to tack onto the end of this post. Shouldn’t be anything more to report until the first of July!


— Kate

splash in a tea cup

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