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How to take Visa photos for China: 5 tips so you don't have to take your photos 5 times

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

-photo of us headed to our 5th retake

We learned the hard way, that China is VERY strict about their visa photos. We ended up taking visa photos 5 TIMES before ours were accepted, so we thought we'd give you 5 pointers so you don't have to spend as much time and money on pictures as we did.


This is probably an obvious one, but sometimes, the obvious ones are what slip your mind. Drew works at a credit union where dress code is typically shirt and tie, so Drew often wears a white button down shirt to work. Without a second thought, he decided to stop by and get his picture taken on his way home from work, but was wearing a white shirt. The person taking his photo didn't seem to be concerned so he got his picture and went on his way. Later it was rejected for being a floating head.


In the united States we're told on signs in the DMV and at Walgreens not to smile for passport photos, or permit pictures but it doesn't seem to be really enforced. Well for China visa photos it is very enforced, don't even think about showing your teeth. You can give a faint "Mona Lisa" smile at most.


Make sure you can see ALL of your face, make sure you have hair behind your ears or pulled back out of your face. Your ears have to be visible, and they are very strict about any different lighting or shadows on the face.


When you are traveling anywhere make sure that you know what size photo the Country requires for their Visas. China just recently changed the sizes they require, so we had to go back, get our pictures retaken AGAIN and have them specially cut for China visas.


We are so happy we started taking our pictures months in advance, because you never know if they will be rejected. We didn't anticipate needing to take 5 photos, but we gave ourselves plenty of time so we wouldn't have to stress about it last minute, or get anything expedited.

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