Among other documents that a Schengen visa applicant is required to submit in order to be able to obtain a Schengen visa, two identical photographs are a must. The European Union has adopted common standards regarding the visa application photos, which are the same as the mandatory specifications for passport photos that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an agency operating under the United Nations, has stipulated.
The photographs must have been taken within the past six months and not older. They must fulfill the appointed standards as follows:
- 35–40mm in width
- close up of your head and top of your shoulders so that your face takes up 70–80% of the photograph in sharp focus and clear
- of high quality
- with no ink marks or creases
- be color neutral
- show your eyes open and clearly visible
- no hair across your eyes should be shown in the picture
- show you facing square on to the camera, not looking over one shoulder (portrait style) or tilted
- it should be showing both edges of your face clearly
- mouth must be closed (no obvious grinning or raised eyebrows)
- be taken with a plain light-colored background
- be taken with uniform lighting
- must not show shadows or flash reflections on your face
- no red eye
- no sunglasses allowed
- no caps allowed
- colored lenses are not allowed
- no big accessories that cover some part or of your face are allowed
- have appropriate brightness and contrast
- the photographs must show you looking directly at the camera
- in case the applicant has very big hair, it would be better if he or she tied it
- avoid too much makeup
- digital makeup is not allowed
If you wear glasses, then the photograph must show your eyes clearly with no flash reflection off the glasses, and no tinted lenses. Try to avoid heavy frames, and try to wear lighter framed glasses if possible. Make sure that the frames do not cover any part of your eyes. If you can, it is recommended to remove the glasses. Pictures with sunglasses on are not accepted.
One is not allowed to wear head covering in his or her photo except for religious reasons. However, facial coverings are not allowed for any type of reasons, therefore your facial features from bottom of chin to top of forehead and both edges of your face must be clearly shown in the picture.
The background of the photo must be clear and one colored. You should be shown alone with no chair backs, toys or other people visible, or even hands or fingers. You should be looking at the camera with a neutral expression and your mouth closed.
Photographs that are taken with a digital camera must be high quality color and printed on photo-quality paper at high resolution.
Children’s Photos for Schengen Visa
When it comes to baby photos, there is no agreed standard between the Schengen countries. However, the rules for baby passport photos are relaxed slightly by most countries due to the difficulty in especially getting babies under one year old to look at the camera.
Under 6 months old
Babies under 6 months old can be photographed while lying down, or sitting on a baby chair. The background must be a suitable one color sheet. The requirements stipulate no visible support like hands.
It is okay if the eyes of the baby are close, or if they are opened the baby does not have to look at the camera. This is because it is harder to get a baby look at the camera. It is also okay if baby’s mouth is opened in the picture.
Under five years old
The rules are also relaxed for children under the age of 5. Children under this age do not need a neutral expression in their Schengen photos, and their head does not necessarily have to be straight. However, the color of their eyes should be clearly visible in the photo though not necessarily looking at the camera.
Where to Take a Visa Photo?
Usually you can take a photo at any photographing studio in your city. Most of them have all of the instructions, and usually take these pictures according to the standards specified above. However, take care to ask if they take pictures according to the Schengen visa photo requirements just to make sure.
There is always at least one photographing studio near the embassy or consulate that takes pictures conform the ISCO standards, but usually they charge you with higher prices for their service.
You may take the picture by yourself at home, just be careful to fulfill all of the above mentioned criteria.
Applications with photos that do not match the ICAO specifications will probably be rejected by the consulate or embassy officials. Therefore, applicants are advised to follow the guideline above.