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Passports and Visas



Passport, Visas, Customs

Passport Cards  are a new official travel document for re-entering the U.S. at land borders or sea ports-of-entry with Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda


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Travel Advice - The New Passport Card

A passport is an official government document that certifies one's identity and citizenship. The issuance of a passport permits the citizen, to whom the passport is granted, the ability to travel outside of, and return to, his or her own country. 

The U.S. government has taken to calling U.S. passports by the term Passport Books, to contrast them with the new Passport Card that can be used to re-enter the United States by land border crossing or sea-port-of entry as legislated in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. (WHTI)

What is the Passport Card?

The Passport Card is a credit card sized, official travel document that can be used to enter the United States only from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda  and only at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry.  The Passport Card cannot be used for international air travel to any location from the United States.

The Passport Card is less expensive than a Passport Book, since its main purpose is the specific needs of the residents of the United States who border  Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.  In other words, the Passport card is a convenience for those who travel frequently to the nations that border the United States.  In turn, the Passport Book remains the premier, internationally accepted travel document for U.S. citizens.


Passport Card Requirements and Costs

The requirements for the Passport Card are the same as the requirements that apply when  filing for a passport (now called the "Passport Book" by the U.S. Department of State).  See our article on Passports for more details on applying for a passport.

If you are an adult and previously did not have a Passport Card and do not have a  passport (book) you will need to apply in person an Acceptance Facility or an official Passport Agency.  If you are below the age of 16, you will need to apply in person for the Passport Card, whether or not you hold a passport (book).  See the Department of State for more information on applying for a Passport Card .

The Passport Card is valid for 10 years for adults and five  years for minors under the age of 16.  The fee is  $55 for a first time adult passport applicant and $40 for  applicants under the age of 16.   Adults who hold a valid passport book can apply for the card as a renewal by mail and pay only $30.

If you intend to apply for a Passport Card, you may want to use the State Department's Passport Application Wizard, to simplify the paperwork.  In order to use the Website, you will need to agree to a privacy statement.  (Although the page indicates that this is an application for a passport, if you agree to the privacy statement you will arrive at a page that provides application forms for passport books, passport cards and the option to add visa pages to your passport book.   .

For U.S. citizens the best place to find additional information on passports and the passport application process is at the official Web site for the Department of State

Also, be sure to see our article on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and the new  requirements for re-entering the U.S. from Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Canada.


Passport Card or Book?

If you plan to travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda, as well as other countries around the world, you should apply for a Passport Book rather than the more limited Passport Card.  Yes, the Passport Book is more expensive, but it opens the door to worldwide travel.

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