The Passport Card Vs. Passport Book

There are very important differences between the passport card and the passport book. The passport card is ONLY for land and sea travel, which means there is no way travelers can use the passport card to board a plane. Air travel is prohibited with the passport card. However, the passport book is valid for all forms of travel: land, sea, AND air.

The passport card is commonly requested by travelers that are planning to go on a cruise. Even closed loop cruises often require passengers to have a valid passport. While the passport card is permissible for a cruise, you may want to reconsider getting the card over the book. The U.S. Department of State recommends the passport book as it is more versatile. For instance, if there is a medical or family emergency, you will NOT be able to fly out of the country to return home. You will have to travel by land or sea. If you miss your cruise ship, you will NOT be able to fly to the next port to catch the cruise. You will have to make arrangements to exit the country by land or sea.

Over 7 million passport cards have been issued since its introduction in 2008. While designed to be a less expensive and more portable version of the passport book, it comes with severe limitations. Travelers should always be prepared for any situation to arise, especially emergency situations where a flight may be required. The passport card has an RFID chip embedded in it that provides some built in security features. While the RFID chip has no personal information on it, it is used by the Customs and Border Protection agents to scan and verify certain important information on your card. This is designed to help processing at the border.

The passport card is certainly more convenient. It fits in most wallets, and is more resistant to damage as it does not have any pages. However, it has a great number of limitations, so clients requesting a passport card should give serious consideration to applying for a passport book as well.

Passport Card Cost and Fees:

Passport Card for Adults: Valid 10 years

First time applicant: $55

Previous Passport holder applicant: $30

Passport Card for Minors (children): Valid 5 years

Cost for all minors: $40

To expedite a passport card, the U.S. State Department charges an additional $60 for their expediting fee. First time adult applicants will pay $115. Previous passport holders will pay $90. Minors will pay $100. Please review the Fees Explained Page.