Passport Book vs Card

The Difference between a Passport Card and a Passport Book

There are many key differences between a passport card and a passport book in terms of purpose and design. First and foremost, the most important document for international travel is the passport book. Your U.S. Passport book represents your identity to the world and your status as a United States citizen when you travel to a foreign country.

All US passports issued after 2007 are biometric, which includes a computerized chip that contains all the personal identifiable information about the bearer including but not limited to fingerprints, signature, photo recognition and a computer readable barcode that presents more information. The passport book can be used for any type of international travel whether it is by air, land or sea.

On the other hand, passport cards are a wallet-sized card that can only be used to re-enter the United States at land and sea ports of entry from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The main advantage of the card is convenience since the card provides a less expensive and smaller design for US Citizens who travel to these four areas on a frequent basis by land or sea.

It is important to note that the passport card, unlike the passport book, cannot be used for air travel to any type of country including the ones that we have just mentioned; the passport card can only be used for land and sea travel between these countries to and from the United States. Since a large portion of Americans travel internationally by air to many different countries, the passport book then becomes a necessity instead of a passport card.

US Citizens enjoy visa-free access to many countries around the world in Europe, South America, the Caribbean and Asia. All US Citizens who plan to visit a foreign country and use air travel as the form of transportation must carry their valid passports with at least 6 months of validity along with the respective visas and other documentation if they are needed or requested by the destination country.

Another key difference between a passport card and a passport book is their cost. Passport cards are a whole lot less expensive than a passport card currently costing a total of $55 including the execution fee imposed by the state department. Passport books have instead a total cost of $125 with any other extra expenses such as speedy services, overnight delivery and extra pages depending upon the request by each individual case.

Apart from differing in terms of cost and purpose, passport cards are quite limited in terms of accessibility to other countries when comparing it to a passport book. US Citizens may only travel to the few selected countries already mentioned and through limited forms of transportation which only include land and sea. Many US Citizens have erroneously thought that passport cards serve the same function as passport books and have been forced to cancel their trips or reprogram their entire travel schedule due to the lack of information about the difference between both of them.

For this reason, this article has clearly presented the main key differences between what is a passport card and a passport book. It is important to note these differences in order to effectively make a decision based on the destination country and travel transportation and avoid all misunderstandings, lack of documents needed and an unpleasant trip in the long run.





Electronic Passports


Biometric passports are revolutionary technology present in today’s world that is effectively addressing many problems relating to many aspects of each individual’s life and his or her overall identity. The term biometric can be separated into the roots bio and metric which literally refer to life and measure, respectively.

The science of biometrics encompasses a new level of technology used in computer science to precisely identify humans based on their physical characteristics and traits, in which the same level of technology has been applied in the emission of passports since 2005.

Biometric passports, which are also called electronic passports, possess a chip containing all the computerized information about its owner. This information can include but is not limited to an updated, high-quality picture of the owner, all of his or her personal identifiable information fingerprints and signature. At the moment of issuance, this information is registered into a global secured database used by government agencies around the world in order to verify and authenticate the passport holder’s information whenever it is necessary.

Electronic passports bring a great deal of benefits for their holders that include safety, advanced recognizing technologies and convenience in many aspects.

Applied Technology

Apart from possessing a smart chip that contains all the personal information about the individual, electronic passports hold an applied computerized technology that combine both a paper and an electronic way of identifying the passport holder. All electronic passports possess a barcode that can be read on a global database used mainly by the police and immigration agencies in each country around the world.

This barcode effectively encompasses all the information that is also included within the chip, with the only difference that the barcode is readable through a scan on a computer while the chip cannot be scanned since it entails a contactless technology for greater safety.

Many airports and immigration authorities around the world have created automated machines and computerized systems in which electronic passports can be scanned through these machines and effectively be read and identified solely by the machine without any kind of human interaction. Once the passport is either scanned by an officer or a machine, an automated authentication of the passport occurs in which the securely stored identifiable information is verified along with the digitized image through complex algorithms and programming coding in order to ensure that the person presenting such passport is the actual person identified on that passport.

The level of automated identity recognition is not only limited to verifying the stored identifiable information about the person, but also to fully include the applied technology of biometrics including face recognition, fingerprints and an iris scanning. These three techniques can be effectively used in the technology of electronic passports in order to ensure that the person identified on the passport is the person who is presenting it.

Benefits & Advantages

The main benefit of electronic passports is their safety. Throughout the history of passports, many people around the world have been able to get hold of passports that are not theirs and effectively engaging in travelling with those passports that did not present the true bearer of the passport. Other individuals have been able to create and sell counterfeited passports to many individuals around the world in the past that were in need of a passport. Other cases also include the risk of identity theft by taking stolen passports and misusing the identity of the bearer to engage in illicit activities.

Electronic passports have been entirely designed and created in order to combat these issues and malpractices that have been occurring globally for several decades. Bearers of electronic passports enjoy a reduced risk of getting their information stolen and counterfeited by criminals engaging in this activity.

The second main benefit in electronic passports is their high level of convenience during international travel. Bearers of electronic passports can get automated identity verification, more efficient and quicker immigration inspections, and an overall greater security and peace of mind in knowing that their identity document is registered on a global computerized database.

Many electronic passports from many nations around the world do not need a visa to travel many countries in several continents, thereby saving the inconvenience and time of undergoing the process to obtain a visa to visit the specified country of their choice.

Worldwide Use

Electronic passports are inherently used by the majority of first-world countries and developed nations around the world. The entire European Union, United States, Japan and some countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia have effectively adopted the biometric technology into the passports of their citizens. Due to nature of technology of being relatively new in scope, not all countries around the world have been able to adopt the technology of electronic passports due to their costs, computerized systems’ infrastructure and other regulations.

However, with the advantage of the internet, research and development in computerized systems and databases, many other countries have expressed their future plans and interest in engaging in this level of technology for the benefit of their entire nation’s society. Experts agree that in less than 50 years from now, all passports of all countries of the world will be biometric with many more advanced features and safety precautions.


In summary, electronic passports offer an advanced technological system that enables effective identification and recognition. The benefits of obtaining an electronic passport far outweigh the costs of obtaining one. Automated identification recognition, secured information, high-quality picture and other advanced technologies should not be taken for granted in digitized era where everything is computerized and managed electronically.

If you are a citizen of a country that provides electronic passports, by all means consider in obtaining one whenever you need it for international travel or other purposes. Start enjoying the benefits of securing your personal identifiable information, have visa-free access to many countries around the world, avoid identity theft and effectively engage in the most advanced technology of biometrics present during the 21st century.



Passport Cards

The US Passport card can be very useful for many travelers. The purpose of the passport card over the passport book is the convenience. Instead of having to carry about the large book, you can simply carry this card in a wallet or purse. There are a few restrictions however – it cannot be used for international traveling via any sort of air flight. It can only be used with other modes of transportation. It also can only be used when you are coming back from Canada, Mexico, the Bermuda, of the Caribbean. Travel by sea to any of the aforementioned countries is acceptable use of the passport card and would not require a passport book.

All US Citizens can apply for a passport card. They are very inexpensive and have a number of very good security features in them. Firstly, the cards are equipped with state-of-the-art RFID chips. These chips however do not contain any personal information on them – they simply provide an identification that is transmitted to a nearby US border facility so that any information can be pulled prior to you crossing the border. This is a way that you can feel safe knowing that terrorists or dangerous criminals will not be crossing the border and can be apprehended quickly and safely. For your security against 3rd party data hackers, each card is provided with an anti-RFID slip that prevents unauthorized reading or tracking of the card at all.

This type of card went into production July 14, 2008 and so far over 2.7 million cards are in circulation.

The cost for a first time cardholder is $55 for adults and $40 for minors under the age of 16. For renewal fees, it will cost only $30.

The card was originally designed for border-states who had many residents crossing the border frequently and they requested a cheaper, faster, easier way to present their ID and cross the border. The card cannot be used for air flight because it would undermine the increased efforts to provide air security checks in this post-9/11 world. TSA regulations allow for this card as an acceptable form of ID to travel, although you need your passport book if you travel internationally regardless.

Application for the passport card is done in the same manner as applying for the passport book. Begin by filling out the form number DS-11. This is the actual application for the US Passport, but can also be used for the card. It can be completed in person or online. Ensure that you provide your social security number. If you do not include it, there will be a possibility that your request will be delayed and even denied altogether. Once the DS-11 form has been filled out, you will have to provide evidence that you are a citizen of the United States before the card will be sent out.

There is some controversy over the RFID chip that is contained in the US Passport cards. According to the US Immigrations office, the card is very safe and contains no personal information. An identification number is the only thing that is transmitted and then used to find your information via the US internal database. No outside sources have access to your personal history and information.