The biggest single significant change with respect to Canadian Passport photos occurred in 2003, when the ICAO introduced new photo specifications for travel documents (standard size, face-on, neutral expression, light-colored background), but meeting the standards perfectly and creating as much of a compliance as possible has been a difficult task to manage for Passport Canada.
Commercial photographers in the United States do not need to be up to date on the standards associated with Canadian Passport photos, simply because Canadian citizens make up a very small percentage of their customer base, if they do at all.
6 out of the 10 photos we receive from our clients, all of which originate in the United States, will not be approved by Passport Canada, and we direct them to either one of our vetted partners, a commercial photographer who we know can meet the standards, or we simply advise to have the photos re-done. This is also part of the reason we created our commercial photographers links in our Help section. We are constantly building this list, as one of the most common things we hear from existing and new clients is that finding an image center who can or is willing to produce Canadian passport photos can be as – if not more – difficult than actually getting them done properly.
Canadian passport photos have a reputation for being difficult to take, in part, because Passport Canada and the Federal Government act proactively with ensuring that Canadian passports migrate towards the newest technologies as quickly as possible for security and administrative reasons. This, of course, is a good thing, but in the last 3 years, the standards for Canadian passport photos has changed dramatically, and as a result, Canadians who reside in the U.S., who cannot visit a Passport Canada office or receive a passport from a consulate, have no choice but to wait and see how their application and photos are received. Most commercial photographers in the United States, understandably, aren’t current with their knowledge of the ever changing standards, and as a result, rejection rates are considerably higher for those of you who live in the U.S.