What is a U.S. Passport Card


A U.S. Passport Card is an official entry document that can be used in place of the larger Passport Book. It can be used for the return into the United States from select countries and locations.

U.S. Passport Cards can be used to enter back in the United States from:

  • U.S. visa card with photoCanada
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Bermuda
  • Land border crossings
  • Sea ports-of-entry

A Passport Card a far cheaper and more convenient that a passport book.

However, a U.S. Passport Card Can Not be used for international travel by air.

The reason that a passport card can not be used for any other international travel is that there is no way to accept entry/exit visas or stamps with a passport card. You will need a U.S. Passport Book for any international travel by air.

A passport card is not necessary if you already have a passport book. Similarly, you do not need a passport card in addition to your passport book to travel internationally.

A U.S. Passport Card is simply an easier way to travel between the above countries and areas and offers another option for frequent travelers.

Who can apply for a Passport Card?

All U.S. citizens may apply for a passport card.

You do not need to currently have a Passport Book in order to apply for a Passport Card.

Note that all applications for a passport card are the exact same as a passport book. Becuase of this, you may apply or renew both your passport card and passport book at the same time

How to get a Passport Card

If you already have a current valid U.S. passport book you may use Form DS-82 to apply for a card through the mail.

  • A Form DS-82 is the “Application to Renew a U.S. Passport by Mail”. It will serve as your application for a U.S. passport card if you currently have a passport book.
  • If you need to renew your passport book you can renew using a DS-82 and apply for a passport card at the same time.

If you do not have a U.S. Passport Book and are interested in applying for a U.S. Passport Card you must apply in person using a Form DS-11.

  • A Form DS-11 is the “Application for a U.S. Passport” and is required for all first time applicants for Passport Books.
  • As you already will have to complete the DS-11 and apply in person for a Passport Card, we recommend that you also get a Passport Book during this time as well.

Whichever form you use, you will still need to provide one compliant Passport Photo.  Passport Card photo requirements will be the same as that of standard passport books or visas.

 

Passport Card Cost

 

Adults (16 and Older) Minors (16 and Younger)
Validity: 10 years Validity: 5 year
First-Time Applicant Cost: $55 Cost for All Minors: $40
Previous Passport Holder Cost: $30

Cash, Checks and Money Orders are acceptable if you are a first time applicant and need to apply in person using a DS-11.

Checks and Money Orders are only acceptable if you are applying through the mail using a DS-82.

Crazy enough, The U.S. Department of State does not have current functionality to accept online payment of credit cards at this time.

Additional Info

A U.S. Passport Card is also approved by the Department of Homeland Security to be used in Ready Lanes for travelers entering the U.S. at land border crossings between Canada and Mexico.

Ready lanes exist next to standard lanes at these border crossings and offer a much faster and expedited entry process for those holding a Passport Card or Ready Lane Card.

Note that if returning to the U.S. from Canada a Passport Card may not be used in NEXUS lanes.

Note that if returning to the U.S. from Mexico a Passport Card may not be used in SENTRI lanes.

Each of the above programs, in addition to Global Entry, are monitored and enforced by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office.

Separate applications for each are required for membership and offer a great compliment to a Passport Card or Book.