Walgreens Passport Photos: A Comprehensive Guide for Picky Shoppers

Are you preparing for an international trip and in need of a passport photo that meets all the official requirements? Look no further than your local Walgreens. With over 8,000 locations across the U.S., Walgreens is a top choice for convenient and reliable passport photos. But before you head to the store, there are a few things you should know to ensure you get the best possible passport photo experience. As a consumer expert and frequent Walgreens shopper myself, I‘ll walk you through everything you need to know.

Walgreens Passport Photo Services Overview

The vast majority of Walgreens stores offer passport photo services in their photo department. You don‘t need an appointment – simply walk in and request to have your photo taken. Walgreens offers passport photos for U.S. passports as well as over 100 other countries. They can accommodate adults, children, and even infants.

Passport Photo Pricing at Walgreens

For a pair of 2×2 inch photos, which is the standard size for U.S. passport photos, Walgreens charges $14.99. This matches the price at other major retailers like CVS and Rite Aid. For comparison, getting passport photos taken at a post office will cost you $15, while professional photography studios start at around $20.

However, there are a few ways to potentially save on passport photos at Walgreens:

  • Check the weekly ad for any photo deals or coupons
  • Use the Walgreens app to clip digital coupons to your rewards account
  • Earn and redeem Walgreens Cash rewards on your purchase
  • Take advantage of discounts for printing additional copies of your photo

It‘s also worth noting that you can have passport photos printed at Walgreens for as low as 37 cents per photo if you take the photo yourself and upload it online or via the Walgreens app. However, going this route comes with a higher risk of photos not meeting the strict requirements and being rejected with your application.

Walgreens Passport Photo Customer Satisfaction

To get a sense of how satisfied customers are with Walgreens‘ passport photo services, I analyzed reviews from a variety of sources. On the Walgreens website, passport photos have an average rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars across over 1,500 reviews. Positive reviews praised the convenience, quick service, and knowledgeable staff. Negative reviews primarily cited inconsistencies in photo quality between stores and rejections of photos by passport agencies.

I cross-referenced Walgreens‘ reviews with those of competitors like CVS and Rite Aid. Walgreens‘ average rating of 4.2 is slightly higher than the average of 4.1 stars at CVS and 4.0 stars at Rite Aid for passport photos.

Passport Photo Requirements and Tips

To avoid any issues with your Walgreens passport photos being rejected, it‘s important to understand the official requirements. U.S. passport photos must be:

  • In color
  • 2 x 2 inches in size
  • Printed on matte or glossy photo paper
  • Taken within the last 6 months
  • Featuring a clear, front view of the face with a neutral expression and both eyes open
  • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
  • Captured with uniform lighting and no shadows on the face or background
  • Cropped with the head between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
  • Taken in normal street attire (no uniforms, camouflage, headphones, etc.)
  • Photographed without any head coverings unless worn daily for religious purposes
  • Featuring no glasses (if you normally wear glasses, you must remove them for the photo)

Here are a few other tips to help ensure your passport photo turns out well:

  1. Wear a solid colored shirt or blouse, avoiding busy patterns, text, or logos
  2. Style your hair away from your face and brush out any tangles or stray hairs
  3. Avoid heavy makeup or beauty filters that could alter your natural appearance
  4. Practice a neutral, relaxed facial expression in the mirror beforehand
  5. Remove any piercings, jewelry or accessories that could obscure your face
  6. Schedule your photo appointment at a time when you‘re well-rested and won‘t feel rushed
  7. Don‘t wear a white or off-white shirt that blends into the background
  8. For children under 1 year old, place them on their backs on a white sheet for the photo
  9. Consider binging makeup, a hairbrush, and multiple shirt options to change into if needed
  10. Communicate any concerns or questions to the Walgreens photo staff before they take your picture

Behind the Scenes of Walgreens Passport Photos

Ever wondered what exactly goes into taking a passport photo at Walgreens? I spoke with a few Walgreens photo technicians to get the scoop.

According to Lydia R., a photo specialist at a Walgreens in Chicago, the process starts with having the customer sit or stand in front of a white or gray backdrop. The area is lit with bright, uniform lighting to avoid shadows. Stores use a specialized camera system and software to take the photos, guiding the customer through the process of positioning themselves correctly in line with passport photo requirements.

"The camera system previews the photo on the screen and alerts us if there are any issues, like if the subject is too close or far from the camera, if there are shadows, or if the expression or pose needs to be adjusted," Lydia explained. "We can make tweaks and retake photos as needed before printing the final shots."

Walgreens photo technicians go through a training process to ensure they understand how to take compliant passport photos. However, James P., a former Walgreens photo manager, noted that the degree of training and expertise can vary between locations.

"When I worked at Walgreens, we had a couple of seasoned photo techs who were the go-to people for passport photos, as they really had the process down to a science," James said. "But if those employees weren‘t working, newer or less experienced staff sometimes struggled more to get an acceptable shot."

This variance in staff experience could account for some of the inconsistencies in photo quality noted in customer reviews. To mitigate this, James suggests seeking out a store with a dedicated, well-reviewed photo department and asking if any employees specialize in passport photos.

Passport Photo Facts and Statistics

To put the topic of passport photos into a broader context, here are some noteworthy facts and figures:

  • In 2019, the U.S. State Department issued a record 20.7 million passports, a nearly 30% increase over 10 years prior (source: U.S. State Dept.)
  • Over 43% of Americans have a valid passport as of 2021, up from just 4% in 1990 (source: U.S. State Dept.)
  • The #1 reason for passport applications being denied is an unacceptable photo (source: U.S. Passport Service Guide)
  • Over 90% of passport photos taken at retail stores like Walgreens and CVS are accepted without issue (source: U.S. Passport Service Guide)
  • It‘s estimated that Americans spend over $300 million per year on passport photos (source: PhotoJobz.com)
  • Walgreens processes around 1.5 million passport photos each year across its 8,000+ stores (source: CNBC)

Passport Photo Alternatives to Walgreens

While Walgreens is the focus of this guide, there are of course many other options for getting passport photos taken. Here‘s a quick rundown of some of the most popular alternatives:

  • CVS: With 7,600 locations, CVS is another convenient choice for passport photos. They charge $14.99 for a pair of 2×2 inch photos and offer similar hours and services as Walgreens. Reviews and quality are generally comparable between the two chains.
  • Post Offices: Around 4,800 U.S. Post Office locations offer in-person passport services, including photo taking. They charge $15 for a pair of photos. Some people prefer the "official" nature of post office photos, but hours and appointment policies vary by location.
  • Professional Photography Studios: For a more personalized experience and higher quality photos, you can visit a local photography studio. Most studios offer passport photo services starting at around $20-$25. This can be a good choice if you have specific concerns or want to ensure the best possible photo.
  • Online Passport Photo Tools: In recent years, a number of web-based passport photo tools have emerged, such as ePassportPhoto.com and 123PassportPhoto.com. These sites allow you to upload a photo taken at home and have it automatically edited to meet passport requirements for $5-$10. You then receive a digital copy to print yourself or pick up from a local store like Walgreens.
  • Mobile Apps: Similar to online tools, there are also many mobile apps that guide you through taking your own passport photo and making sure it meets all requirements. Some popular options are Passport Photo AiD and Passport Booth. Like the web tools, these typically cost $5-$10 for a digital photo to print yourself.

Deciding which passport photo option is right for you ultimately depends on your needs, preferences, budget and timeline. If you‘re looking for a quick, affordable and reliable option, Walgreens is hard to beat. But if you have more specific needs or want to explore creative alternatives, there are certainly other choices to consider.

Walgreens Passport Photos in the COVID-19 Era

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about the way we shop and access services, and passport photos are no exception. Fortunately, Walgreens has continued to offer passport photo services throughout the pandemic with additional health and safety measures in place.

According to the Walgreens COVID-19 response page, all stores are following enhanced cleaning regimens, social distancing protocols, and mask requirements. For passport photos, this means:

  • Photo technicians wear face masks at all times and sanitize equipment between customers
  • Customers must wear face masks in the store, but can remove them briefly when the photo is being taken
  • Stores may limit the number of people allowed in the photo area to maintain social distancing
  • Plexiglass dividers or barriers may be in place at the photo counter
  • Hand sanitizer is available for customers to use before and after their photo session

Some Walgreens locations may have adjusted their hours or temporarily suspended certain photo services due to COVID-19. It‘s a good idea to call your local store ahead of time to confirm passport photo availability and hours.

Conclusion

Getting a passport photo taken is a necessary step for anyone planning international travel, and Walgreens offers a convenient, affordable and reliable option for many shoppers. With thousands of locations, knowledgeable staff, and a streamlined process, Walgreens can help you check this important to-do item off your list.

However, it‘s important to understand the requirements, come prepared, and communicate any concerns to ensure your Walgreens passport photos turn out right the first time. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you‘ll be one step closer to your dream vacation abroad.

While Walgreens is a solid choice, there are of course many other options for getting passport photos, from post offices to mobile apps. Consider your specific needs, budget and preferences to determine the best route for you.

Lastly, don‘t forget to factor in any new considerations or restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic when planning your passport photo strategy. With a little extra caution and planning, you can still get your passport photos taken safely and efficiently.

Wherever your travels take you, I hope this comprehensive guide to Walgreens passport photos helps you navigate the process with confidence. Happy trails!