Photograph For Canada Immigration

Regardless of your purpose, you need to provide photographs to come to Canada. On top of your fingerprints, your photograph separates you from other visa applicants. In a way, your photograph helps the authorities identify you. For this reason, it is a must for all Canadian visas and documents.

There will be several times when you must provide your photos. You will need one to apply for a student or work permit. It is especially essential for permanent residence. Lastly, your photograph must also be a part of your citizenship application.

While it is tempting to just take your picture yourself, there are guidelines. In this article, we will go over these guidelines and more.

Photo Guidelines

Whether it is for a tourist visa or permanent residence application, your picture needs to follow certain standards. The required picture is a passport photo. The sizes of passport photos do not differ much.

However, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is very particular about several things. Any deviation from its standards could delay your application. Or, worse, it may lead to your application being rejected or returned.

Body Position And Facial Expression

Of course, you should be facing and looking at the camera. Your shoulders need to be squared equally towards the camera. One side should not be ahead of the other. For babies, this is also a requirement.

You should have a neutral expression. In other words, you should not smile nor frown. Just keep your mouth closed. Besides, with the mouth closed, you won’t be able to have anything but a neutral facial expression anyway.


For your visa application, your passport photos need to be current or recent. Now, this does not mean that you should submit your pictures after a day. Instead, we could think of current as “not longer than six months“. This means that a “recently” taken picture is one taken within the last six months before your application.

For instance, if you are submitting your photos for Canada on August 19, 2020, it is alright. This is as long as the photo was taken within the six month period between February 19, 2020, and August 19, 2020.


Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) requires photographs to follow size specifications. The standards for size apply to the picture itself and your head.

The size of the photograph needs to be 50 mm x 70 mm. In other words, the width of the picture should be 50 mm, and the length or height 70 mm. If you want the measurement in inches, this would be about two inches by 2.76 inches.

The image of your head and face needs to follow a size requirement too. The height of your head’s image should be somewhere between 31 mm to 36 mm. This is from your chin to the crown. The crown is another term for the top of your head.

These size requirements are the same for permanent residence and citizenship applications.

For temporary visas, height and width are different. The dimensions should measure 35 mm by 45 mm. Simply put, the width should be 35 mm while the height should be 45 mm. The size of your head is still 31 mm to 36 mm from the chin to the top of your head.

Background And Lighting

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) requires your image to be against a plain white or light background. “Plain white” means that there should be no shadow in the background.

This is why it may be a good idea to have your photos taken by a commercial photographer. Photographers are equipped with the required background and lighting for visa photos. Their products or services cater to visa applicants, among other clients.

There should also be no glares or flash reflection on your photos. The lighting should show natural skin tones.

Your photos may be coloured. They may also be in black and white.


For immigration or travel to Canada, photos must be printed on quality photographic paper. This would ensure that your picture is free from ink smudges. Also, photographic paper is durable and can handle the mechanical stresses of shipping and handling.

Glasses And Headwear

Some people wear glasses. Others wear articles of clothing on their heads. These are allowed by CIC, but there are guidelines.

Eyeglasses need to be clear. Your photos must show your entire face. With this in mind, you need to make sure that your spectacles have no tint since a tint conceals your eyes. Low-set frames or frames that are too close to the eyes have the same effect. Hence, these are not advisable.

CIC acknowledges that some religions require headwear. Since Canada protects religious freedom, CIC allows headwear on one condition – that it does not cover the face.

Some medical conditions require visa applicants to be in nasal cannulas. The government of Canada also permits this. In this case, all that is required is a letter or certification from the prescribing doctor. The document should contain the applicant’s medical condition, the need for the cannula, and the physician’s details (name and license number).

Additional Information For The Photos

From 2011, CIC has required two photos from all visa applicants. You may want to have more ready, just in case.

The back of one of the photos should contain information about you. They are:

  • Your name
  • Your complete birthday
  • The date the photos were taken
  • The name and address of the photo studio

The photographer or the studio may include this information with a stamp or through handwriting. Stick-on labels are unacceptable.

Where To Have Your Photos Taken

An obvious choice to get your photo passport-sized is any commercial or professional photography studio near you. These places have the right equipment, service, and lighting to take your photos. Also, there is a very good chance that photographers know about the requirements of CIC.

You can also take your digital photo if you want. You would still have to follow all of the guidelines on body position, facial expression, glasses, headwear, and time. Once you do, you could use online photo services. They are often affordable and send you a clear digital copy.

These copies follow the standards of CIC. The only thing you need to do is print them at the right sizes on quality photo paper.

Examples of some sites are:

Some of these sites have a search menu for the type of visa you need the photos for. You may have to provide your email address to download your photos. This makes the process easier for you.


Whether it’s for a passport or permanent residence, submitting the right photographs will allow your Canadian visa application to go smoothly.

Follow the guidelines we gave in this article, and you will be on your way to completing your application for Canada.

So, smile for the camera! No. Don’t. Just kidding.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

Related Posts

Sign up today!

There are some tips, guides and job opportunities that we only share with our newsletter community.

Please wait...

Thank you for signing up!