How long is a Passport Card good for?

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Thu Apr 2 2020

If you’ve decided a passport card is the best document for your travels, then you should be aware of all the benefits and restrictions it offers.

While passport books grant the holder access through any immigration checkpoint — except where visas are required or travel is otherwise banned — passport cards may only be used in particular situations. Often, the reason travelers choose a card over a book is because they are very aware of their needs and see no reason to spend more time and money than necessary.


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Advantages of a Passport Card over a passport book


Unless you’re planning to fly outside of the United States for work or leisure for the next ten years, then you may see no reason to pay $110 for a new passport book or a renewal on your old document. Passport cards still allow the holder to travel internationally by land or sea, and cut down the costs significantly: as of 2020, the fee is $30.

In addition to the lower price tag, passport cards have the advantage of greater portability. While books are relatively small and can easily fit into any bag, they are a tad bulky when it comes to pant or shirt pockets. Traveling abroad means you may not always be wearing a jacket big enough to comfortably house your 52-page passport book. In this case, a card the size of your photo ID may be preferable.


How long is a Passport Card good for?


The application process and validity of a U.S. passport card is the same as that of a passport book. Any U.S. citizen over the age of 16 qualifies to receive a ten-year document whether they’re renewing or applying for the first time.

However, children under the age of 16 qualify for cards or books valid for only five years. While the adult price is $30, a child’s passport card costs only $15.


Can the validity of a U.S. Passport Card be extended?


The validity of passport cards and books are fixed for adults and children at ten and five years, respectively. Though there are certain circumstances under which a U.S. citizen may be issued a document valid for four years — second passports — or even less than a year — emergency and limited validity passports — these are the exceptions, not the rule.

The good news is both adults and children can legally hold both a valid passport book and card at the same time, and stagger the times at which they applied to affect the expiration dates. For example, you may keep a passport book in your safe at home that expires in 2022, and have applied for a passport card that expires in 2024. All perfectly legal and handy for the international traveler.


How long can I travel with a Passport Card?


Unfortunately, no passport card may be used for international air travel at this time, even to a country that might allow entry with one by land or sea, e.g. Mexico. Travelers on international trains, buses, cruises, and even small boats can use passport cards around the Caribbean and North America.

While the card may still allow the holder to travel for ten years, using both the card and the book is a winning combination when it comes to international travel. Entry to a country like Japan — where visitors are required to have ID on them at all times — can be achieved with the passport book, while the card can be carried around Tokyo to comply with local laws.

In addition, with the Real ID Act continuing to take effect in the United States, residents of certain areas may no longer be allowed to use their old state-issued IDs for domestic air travel. Passport cards, issued by the federal government, are cheap and easily available alternatives to waiting in line at the DMV for a replacement.

While considering whether a passport book or card might be right for you, stop by your nearest Travel Visa Pro office. One of our experts will discuss your trip and work with you to determine which document is best.

Do you have any questions about how long you can use a passport card? Leave them in the comments!