Renewing a Driver's Licence

Photo Specifications and Licence Features

To be accepted, the photo taken for your driver’s licence must meet certain specifications.

Photo specifications

When having your photo taken for your driver's licence or Health Insurance Card, you must follow certain rules in order to make sure that your photo meets specifications determined by the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations with more than 180 member states. These specifications also apply to passports and other travel documents.

Photo specifications help verify a person's identity on the basis of his or her physical characteristics. A photo that complies with these specifications makes it easier to compare the face on the photo with that of the licence holder.

If your photo does not meet the required specifications, it could be refused. As a result, you could be required to return to a service outlet to have your picture taken again.

Here are the 6 rules you must follow to ensure your photo is accepted

1. Expose your face and make sure that it is entirely visible

Your hair should not hide your face or the sides of your face.

Note:

  • Cosmetic accessories should not prevent you from being identified.
  • Accessories should not create shadows or reflections, nor should they cover the sides of your face or your features.
  • A bandana covering your entire head is not acceptable.
  • Bluetooth earpieces are not acceptable.

Examples of photos that cannot be accepted:

Example of a refused photo of a woman whose hair is hiding the side of her face Example of a refused photo of a woman wearing a decorative accessory (a flower) that is hiding the side of her face Example of a refused photo of a woman wearing a religious accessory (a hijab) that is hiding the sides of her face Example of a refused photo of a man wearing a Bluetooth earpiece Example of a refused photo of a man wearing a bandana covering his entire head

Examples of photos that can be accepted:

Example of an accepted photo of a woman wearing a decorative accessory that is not hiding the side of her face Example of an accepted photo of a woman wearing a decorative accessory that is not hiding the side of her face

2. Keep your head straight and look into the camera lens

Examples of photos that cannot be accepted:

Example of a refused photo of a man whose head is not straight Example of a refused photo of a man who is not looking into the camera lens

Example of a photo that can be accepted:

Example of an accepted photo of a woman who is keeping her head straight, looking into the camera lens and keeping her eyes open

3. Keep a neutral facial expression and your mouth closed

You should neither smile nor frown.

Examples of photos that cannot be accepted:

Example of a refused photo of a woman who is smiling with her mouth closed Example of a refused photo of a woman who is smiling with her mouth open Example of a refused photo of a man smiling with his mouth half open

Example of a photo that can be accepted:

Example of an accepted photo of a man with a neutral expression, closed mouth and open eyes

4. Keep your eyes open

Example of a photo that cannot be accepted:

Example of a refused photo of a man with his eyes closed

Example of a photo that can be accepted:

Example of an accepted photo of a woman who is keeping her head straight, looking into the camera lens and keeping her eyes open

5. Remove head coverings, unless they are worn daily for religious or medical reasons

Your entire face should be visible, and your head covering must not create shadows on your face.

Examples of photos that cannot be accepted:

Example of a refused photo of a woman wearing a religious accessory (a hijab) that is hiding the sides of her face Example of a refused photo of a man with a head covering (a cap) Example of a refused photo of a woman wearing a head covering (a tuque) Example of a refused photo of a woman whose face is almost entirely hidden by a religious head covering (a hijab)

Examples of photos that can be accepted:

Example of an accepted photo of a woman wearing a religious head covering (a hijab) that does not cast a shadow on her face Example of an accepted photo of a man wearing a kippa, which is a head covering worn every day for religious reasons and that does not hide his face or cast shadows Example of an accepted photo of a man wearing a turban, which is a head covering worn every day for religious reasons and that does not hide his face or cast shadows

6. Keep your glasses on, unless you are asked to remove them

Glasses are acceptable as long as your eyes are clearly visible and there is no glare.

Note:

  • The frames of your glasses should not cover or hide your eyes.
  • Your glasses should not be on top of your head.
  • Sunglasses are not acceptable.

Examples of photos that cannot be accepted:

Example of a refused photo of a woman wearing glasses that create glare and that prevent her eyes from being clearly visible Example of a refused photo of a woman wearing glasses that are hiding her eyes Example of a refused photo of a man wearing sunglasses Example of a refused photo of a woman wearing glasses resting on top of her head Example of a refused photo of a woman wearing sunglasses resting on top of her head

Examples of photos that can be accepted:

Example of an accepted photo of a man wearing glasses that do not create glare and that let his eyes be clearly visible Example of an accepted photo of a woman wearing glasses that do not create glare and that let her eyes be clearly visible

Licence features

Example of a new driver's licence with a black and white photo and additional security features

In August 2015, we began issuing new official documents, including a new driver’s licence.

In order to improve security, the new licence:

  • consists of a polycarbonate card on which the licence holder’s personal information is engraved by laser
  • features an exceptionally high-resolution black and white photograph
  • has additional and improved security features, some of which are tactile or visible to the naked eye
Useful information

Old licences remain valid until their expiry date.

Example of an old driver's licence with a color photo