What is a passport card?

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Sat Apr 7 2018

Traveling internationally anywhere from the US will require you to have a passport. Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure, or other reasons, you’ll first have to have a passport to start your journey. Passports actually come in two different forms. The most common is a passport book. This is usually most recognized and used more often because it allows you to get visa stamps on the available pages. The other form is a passport card. This card serves the same purpose as a passport book but can only be used for specific cases.


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A passport card is a simplified version of a passport. It doesn’t have as much freedom and flexibility as a passport book but you are still able to travel internationally with it. If you have a passport card, you can travel only to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. You are also restricted to only being able to travel to these destinations by land or sea. You cannot use a passport card if you have plans to fly to another country. The passport card is an enhanced version of your regular ID. It’s the same shape and size. You can actually use this card for traveling domestically to substitute any other form of ID.

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How to Get a Passport Card?

There are a few options for how you can get your passport card. Some people applying may be getting a passport for the first time. Other people applying may already have, or had, a passport book. They have similar but different application processes.

For those interested in getting a passport for the first time and prefer to just have a passport card, you will have to apply in person. You’ll need to submit a passport application, provide proof of citizenship, a copy of your ID, and also provide an additional photo to use for your passport card.

If you have already had a passport card in the past or even a passport book, you can just use the renewal process. Renewing your passport card can be done by mail. You will just mail in the same information but also include your old passport with it.

Choose Between Passport Book and Passport Card

Many people get confused about whether they will need a passport book or passport card. You can actually have both if you really want to. Deciding on which depends on your travel plans. Passport cards have much more restrictions than passport books. One of the main things to consider if where you will be traveling. If you only have plans to visit the few locations allowed on a passport card, then you can still consider it. It’s good if you have a quick trip to the countries. Also if you aren’t a frequent traveler and don’t plan to go abroad at any other times. A passport card also limits you in how you can travel. You can only travel by land or sea with the card. This is good for a road trip to Canada or Mexico. Also is a popular option for people going on a cruise to Bermuda or the Caribbean islands.

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The passport card is a more economic option than a full passport book. If your travel plans fit within the restrictions of the passport card, you can expect to pay significantly less than what you would for a passport book.

You can also opt to have both a passport card and book. Having both just gives you flexibility while traveling. The passport book permits you to do all of the things that the passport card allows and much more. It can be beneficial, however. When traveling to destinations permitted with your passport card, it’s preferred to present your card upon entering the new country so you don’t have to waste space getting your passport book stamped. Having too many stamps in your book will mean that you have to get it renewed sooner. The passport card can essentially extend your passport book use when they are used together.

Getting a passport card will take you through the same process as getting a passport book. You will have to submit similar information to the same offices. Even the application form for getting a passport card is the same as when applying to renew your passport book. Passport cards are very useful for travelers in the US going on quick trips, such as for business. It’s a cheaper option and could be used to replace your regular ID when even traveling domestically.

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