The U.S. Department of State Passport Services recently began issuing the passport card as an alternative to the traditional passport book. In a short period of time, Passport Services received over 350,000 applications for the passport card. What is the purpose of the passport card? How does it differ from the passport book? Which travel document should you choose? Is one better than the other? These are just a few of the questions for which you will find answers below.
You may use the passport card when traveling by land and sea anywhere in the U.S. when you arrive from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean. The Passport care may NOT be used if you are going to travel by air. Other than that, it carries all of the privileges and right of the U.S. passport book.
The State Department has begun issuing passport cards in response to the needs of resident communities that are located on the borders of our great country. It is a less expensive and a much more portable alternative to the traditional passport book. The passport card has the same validity as the passport book – ten years for adults and five years for children ages 15 and younger. If an adult already has a passport book, they may apply for the card and only have to pay $20 because it would be considered as a passport renewal. First time adult applicants will pay a fee of $45 while for children it is $35.
The passport card contains a radio frequency identification chip or RFID in order to facilitate U.S. citizens who are living in border communities. No personal information is written on the RFID chip.
The U.S. State Department along with the Department of Homeland Security stated that the U.S. Passport Card is now in full production and is also being distributed. The Passport Card is a convenient document that you can slip right into your wallet and is used for land and sea travel. It is NOT valid for international air travel.
Starting in June, 2009, travelers will have to show their Passport Card that denotes both their identity and citizenship when coming into the U.S. through a sea or land border.
Passport Cards Vs. Passport Books
Passport Book- Valid if you travel by air, sea and land
Passport Card – This is only valid if you travel by sea and land only. It is limited to travel between the United States and Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada and Bermuda.
Passport Book and Passport Cards – These are both valid for adults for 10 years and 5 years for minors
Passport Book Cost – The first time fee for an adult applicant is $100 and $85 for minors. This includes both the application fee and the execution fee.
Passport Card Cost – $45 for those 16 and over including execution fee and $35 for those under 16.
It there is the slightest chance that you might travel by air over the next 10 years, I would suggest that you go ahead and obtain the passport book. It allows you to travel anywhere that you can with the passport card with the additional benefit of being able to travel by air. Just keep in mind that the book is a bit more expensive. If you don’t mind the expense, you may opt for both the passport book and the passport card.