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Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Saving on Passport Cost - Part I: Passport photos on the cheap
Recently, renewed my passport as well as got a new one made for my kid. As always, had to submit two passport-sized photos with my application. In the past, we used to get photos done at places like Cosco, CVS and even the US Postal Service office, and would end up spending $8-$20 for two to four passport-sized photos (US Post Office charges $15). This time, however, for my new born as well as myself, we took the photos at home with our digital camera and then uploaded the snaps to a free website called ePassportPhoto.

The process was very simple - I just had to upload one of our photos and then the site converted it into a passport-sized photo. For each photo I uploaded, it created a 4 x 6 photo consisting of six 2 x 2 passport-sized photos. The only thing I had to do after that was to download the jpg photo file. The entire process took less than 5minutes. I then uploaded the 4 x 6 photo file at the online photo center at Wal-Mart and picked up the photo at their local store on the next trip. Total cost for the six passport-sized photos? About 17 cents each inclusive of sales tax! So we paid about 34 cents for the six 2 x 2 for myself and for kid instead of $16+ we used to pay in the past. So it was a really good deal - not only I got two photos that I need to submit with my application but now I also have four additional pics for future use.

The photo site, by the way, does allow you to upload the pics to Snapfish or other online shops from the links on that site but we go to Wal-Mart frequently and didn't mind waiting to pick up the photo until our next trip there. Another good thing about the site is that it allows you to create passport-sized photos by allowing you to choose from various countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa etc. In addition, it gives you the option to specify whether the photos should be sized for passports, visa or greencard.

If takings pictures at home for passport, it is better to take pics with a bright, preferably white, background as otherwise the passport agency (US Department of State) may reject the photo. We took the photos during broad daylight against a semi-white plain wall. When I went to the local post office to drop the passport application, I found that the lady in front of me had her pics rejected by the passport agency. Seemed that the background of her pics was quite dark which is why the agency asked her to resubmit her application. She was at the post office to get her pics taken there. Fortunately, we had no problems with either my kid's or my own photo. It took about 2-3 months for my kid's passport to come in the mail as we had submitted the application at the peak time last year, but my new, renewal passport came back within 15 days. However, in each case, I submitted our applications slightly earlier just in case there was any problem with our photos and I needed to resubmit them. Fortunately, in each case, the process went smoothly.

To visit the passport pic site as well as for more info on passport requirements, see:

ePassportPhoto

US Department of State: Passport Applications

US Department of State: Get or Renew Passport

US Department of State: Checking the Status of Your Application

US Department of State: Guidelines for Producing High Quality Photographs for U.S. Travel Documents

US Postal Service: Passport Application Information

For Part II of this post, see:

Saving on Passport Cost - Part II: Passport application and mailing fees


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posted by Ruby @ 8:06 AM  
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