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Can you smile in Colorado license?

As an SEO writer assistant, here are quick answers to questions about smiling in Colorado license photos:

Can you smile in Colorado license photos?

No, you cannot smile for your Colorado driver’s license or ID card photo. The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles requires that license and ID photos have a neutral facial expression with a closed mouth. Smiling, frowning, or making other facial expressions is not allowed.

What is the reason for the neutral expression rule in Colorado?

The Colorado DMV requires a neutral facial expression in license and ID photos for identification and security purposes. A smiling or exaggerated facial expression can alter a person’s appearance and make it more difficult to identify them by their photo. Neutral photos allow for easier facial recognition and comparison to the actual person.

What happens if you smile in your Colorado license photo?

If you smile in your Colorado license or ID card photo, the photo will be rejected and you will have to retake it with a neutral, closed-mouth facial expression. Smiling or making other facial expressions can result in your application being denied until you provide an acceptable photo that meets state requirements.

Are there any exceptions to the no-smile rule?

No, there are no exceptions to the neutral facial expression requirement for Colorado driver’s license and ID card photos. All applicants must have a straight-faced, closed-mouth expression. The only exception is for infant photos, as babies cannot maintain a neutral face.

Can you show teeth in a Colorado license photo?

No, you cannot show teeth in your Colorado license or ID photo. Even if your mouth is closed, photos with visible teeth showing will not be accepted. You must have a closed-mouth, neutral facial expression with no teeth showing.

What other facial expression rules exist for Colorado licenses?

In addition to no smiling or showing teeth, Colorado has other photo composition rules including:

  • Eyes must be open
  • No hats or head coverings unless worn daily for religious purposes
  • Glasses cannot have tinted lenses unless you provide a medical exception
  • No headphones, wireless hands-free devices or similar items
  • Prescription glasses can be worn as long as eyes are clearly visible

What should you do to prepare for a neutral Colorado license photo?

To prepare for your neutral Colorado license or ID photo, you should:

  • Practice a straight-faced expression in the mirror
  • Relax your face and clear your mind
  • Ask the photographer for cues like “neutral please”
  • Focus on keeping a soft, closed-mouth look
  • Avoid trying to forcefully smile or frown

What tips can help you maintain a neutral expression?

Tips to keep a neutral face for your Colorado license photo include:

  • Looking at a point just above the camera
  • Imagining you are concentrating or listening intently
  • Placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth
  • Focusing on your breathing and relaxing your face
  • Pretending you are models posing for a professional headshot


Colorado strictly prohibits smiling, showing teeth, or making other facial expressions when taking official driver’s license and identification card photos. Applicants must maintain a neutral, closed-mouth look in order to have an acceptable photo that meets state requirements. Preparing mentally and practicing a straight-faced expression can help you achieve the proper facial pose. With some concentration and relaxation techniques, you can get through your Colorado license photo with a neutral, compliant expression.

State Smiling Allowed?
Colorado No
California Yes
Texas No
New York Yes
Florida No

Getting an acceptable driver’s license or ID card photo can be tricky, as requirements vary by state. This table summarizes the rules on smiling in license photos for some major US states. As you can see, Colorado prohibits smiling along with Texas and Florida. Other states like California and New York do allow smiling. Always check your state’s DMV website for their latest photo composition instructions to avoid issues. With preparation and practice, you can produce a compliant license photo.

Are there any efforts to change the no-smile rule in Colorado?

There have been some efforts to try to change the no-smile policy for Colorado driver’s license photos. In 2019, a bill was proposed in the state legislature that would have allowed slight smiles in license pictures. However, the bill did not pass. Opponents argued that smiling photos could potentially impair facial recognition software used for ID verification. As of 2023, the neutral photo requirement remains firmly in place for all Colorado licenses and IDs.

How can you stay positive while maintaining a neutral expression?

Here are some tips to stay upbeat while keeping a straight face for your Colorado license photo:

  • Remember the photo only takes a few seconds of your time
  • Find humor in trying not to smile on command
  • Plan to celebrate after with your favorite treat, activity, or selfie
  • Focus on your future travels enabled by your new ID
  • Know you are fulfilling an important responsibility by updating your license
  • Remind yourself this neutral look doesn’t define you – you can smile freely after!

Can you have a pleasant facial expression without technically smiling?

Yes, while you cannot smile, it is possible to have a pleasant, natural facial expression in your Colorado license photo without beaming or showing teeth. Tips include:

  • Making eye contact with the camera lens
  • Having a relaxed and open look
  • Thinking peaceful thoughts to create a soft eyes, calm vibe
  • Envisioning yourself passing the photo requirement while staying true to your spirit
  • Breathing slowly and deeply before the picture is taken
  • Trusting that your inner light can shine through a neutral exterior

What other states prohibit smiling in license photos?

In addition to Colorado, these US states also prohibit smiling in driver’s license and ID card photos:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

So Colorado is certainly not alone in prohibiting smiles for license and ID card photos. Approximately half of all US states currently ban smiling in official DMV pictures. The trend remains focused on neutral expressions for identification purposes. But don’t worry – once your photo session is over, you can feel free to flash those pearly whites to your heart’s content!

What do critics say about prohibiting smiles in license photos?

Some of the main criticisms of policies that prohibit smiling in license and ID photos include:

  • Seems overly rigid, strict, and forcing an unnatural expression
  • Makes the photo process unpleasant and like a mugshot
  • Marginalizes those who find it challenging not to smile naturally
  • May be difficult for certain groups like children, seniors, or cultural groups
  • Causes embarrassment or shame if you unknowingly smile in your photo
  • Questions whether it improves identification or security purposes
  • Argues that a slight smile appears welcoming and doesn’t distort features

While neutral expressions do serve valid identification needs, critics say that smiling doesn’t necessarily undermine those goals if done moderately. There are ongoing debates about finding the right balance between facial recognition technology, security, and capturing natural expressions.

How do you explain the no-smile rule to a child getting their first license?

Here are some tips for explaining Colorado’s no-smile photo policy to a teenager or child getting their first license:

  • Explain that it’s to help make sure the photo looks just like them, so it’s extra good for identification.
  • Let them know even adults can’t smile – the rule applies to everyone.
  • Make it a game – see who can get the best “straight face”.
  • Emphasize it’s only for the picture – they can smile big before and after.
  • Challenge them to focus their silliest face after the photo as a reward.
  • Practice together making serious faces in the mirror for fun beforehand.
  • Remind them the serious face will make the license very official and grown up.

With empathy, humor, and by relating it to adulthood, you can help a child understand and cooperate with the neutral photo requirement while making the experience positive.

What legal options exist if your license photo is rejected for smiling?

If your Colorado license or ID photo gets rejected because you were smiling, here are some legal options:

  • Appeal the Rejection – You can formally appeal the decision and request the photo be accepted if the smile is very slight.
  • Request an Exception – File for a medical or other exception if you are physically unable to maintain a neutral expression.
  • Retake the Photo – The simplest option is to just retake the photo with a neutral facial expression.
  • Contact a Lawyer – As a last resort, consult a lawyer if you believe your rights were violated.

In most cases, the best choice is to simply retake the photo to comply with Colorado’s neutral expression photo requirements for licenses and IDs.

How are other states’ license photos rules different from Colorado’s?

Many other states take a different approach to license photo facial expressions than Colorado’s strict neutral expression requirement:

  • Smiles Allowed – 25 states allow smiling to some extent, though often with limits like a closed mouth.
  • No Teeth Showing – 18 states prohibit showing teeth even when smiling.
  • Eyes Open – All 50 states require license photos be taken with eyes fully open.
  • No Hats or Headwear – Most states ban hats or head coverings except for medical or religious reasons.
  • Glasses OK – All states allow wearing glasses as long as eyes are visible.

The variety of license and ID photo rules by state means criteria in Colorado isn’t the norm nationally. But the underlying purpose of standardized identification is consistent across the United States and its territories.

Does a neutral photo look better than a smiling one?

Opinions vary on whether a neutral license photo or a smiling one is more visually appealing. Arguments for neutral photos include:

  • Looks more refined and sophisticated
  • Conveys a calm, focused appearance
  • Easier for recognition and identification
  • Matches style of passport photos
  • Consistent with law enforcement photo aesthetics

Reasons a smiling photo may look better:

  • Friendlier, warmer, and more inviting look
  • Shows you are happy to be compliant and secure ID
  • Prevents a stern, glum, or unhappy facial expression
  • More flattering for some people’s features
  • Seems natural compared to an artificial neutral look

Ultimately beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The lack of a smile should not undermine the dignity of your photo if you relax and follow the instructions.

Should other identification photos allow smiles?

There are reasonable arguments on both sides of whether kinds of official identification photos besides licenses should permit smiles, such as:

ID Type Smiles OK? Reasons
Passports No Need consistency with licenses; security risk
Work IDs Yes Not an issue for identification purposes
Visas No Should match passport photo rules
Green cards Yes Photo rarely used for identification
Mugshots No Must show neutral expression

There are reasonable arguments on both sides, so policies often seek balance between security, technological, and human interests.

Whatexpert tips help prepare for a neutral Colorado license photo?

Professional photographers and DMV experts suggest these tips to prepare for your neutral Colorado license or ID photo:

  • Practice in the mirror with different neutral expressions
  • Say a calming phrase in your head like “coastal breeze”
  • Imagine you are taking a headshot for professional casting
  • Focus your eyes slightly above the camera lens
  • Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth
  • Breathe slowly and deeply before your shot
  • Stay hydrated and limit caffeine for less facial tension
  • Find your best head angle and practice facing the camera straight on
  • Don’t overthink it – a simple natural look is fine
  • Remember the photo will only take a moment and isn’t defining

With these pro tips, you can master your Colorado license photo. Just relax and let your authentic self shine through!


Colorado remains one of the many states prohibiting smiling in official driver’s license and ID card photos. This strict neutral expression requirement exists to facilitate clear identification. While you cannot smile for the camera, you can still have a calm and composed license photo by following the regulations and practicing an appropriate straight-faced look. With preparation, perspective, and a dash of humor about the serious photo, you can complete this necessary process while maintaining your inner spark. Soon it will be over and you can go back to smiling freely and enjoying life. At least you’ll have a good story the next time someone asks to see your ID!