Get your next passport photo for free
While you can easily get a passport photo for around $10 from your average chain drugstore, there is no requirement that passport photos be professionally prepared. In fact, with the help of your digital camera or smart phone, making your own passport photo is easy to do and basically free. While saving $10 may not seem like a big deal, when you are saving up for a big international trip every dollar counts, plus you can save yourself a trip to the drug store. Here’s how to do it:
Create passport photos with a digital camera
Have somebody take a picture of your head and upper chest. The requirements for passport photos are very specific, so I recommend taking several photos from slightly different distances. That way in the later steps when you are editing the photo you should be able to find one that will work for you. Next, visit the US state department’s website to help you edit your photo to meet all the requirements. Although there are commercial websites that claim they will help you do this, I do not recommend using those. While researching this article I looked at a few of those sites. The first site that came up on a google search charged a fee, even though you can do it through the state departments website for free. The second site that came up is free, but tries to download malware on your computer. Don’t mess with those sites, just use the state department’s website.
After you have saved the photo from the state departments website, simply print it out on photo quality paper. If you don’t have a photo printer at home, you can take the picture down to your local drug store and have it printed for less than a dollar.
Create passport photos with a smart phone
If you have a smart phone, the process is even easier. Start by downloading a free app such as ID Photo Free. This app helps you take the photo and line up your head so that the photo meets the state department’s website. The app will then help you crop the photo and make any adjustments that need to be made. Then you can download the picture and either print it out or take it to a drug store to be printed.
Other ways to save money on your passport
While making your own photo can save you about $10, the more important way to save money is to be sure and order your passport nice and early. The typical processing time for a US passport is 4-6 weeks. If you need your passport before then the fee is $60 for rush service plus $15 for overnight delivery. So this is one time where being a procrastinator doesn’t pay. Save yourself the $75 and plan ahead.
Photo by Christopher Elison