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.


Passport Name Change

Changing your name on your passport is a necessary step if you have changed your name any time recently. If you plan to go abroad, it is very important to remember the fact that if you have had a name change in the recent past, but your passport still uses the old name; you could very possibly run into some serious trouble.

Also, it is very important to ensure that you do this in a timely manner in case you must leave the country for a family emergency, or a business trip. If left unchanged from the prior name, it may be close to impossible to reach the destination that you need to get to.

There are three different scenarios that you may have come into that would be cause for a need to change your name on your passport.

The first scenario is if you received your passport less than a year ago and since then you have had your name changed legally due to a court order or you got married. If this is the case, then you should mail in your current valid US Passport, the (DS-5504) form, which is the actual application for any sort of changes to a passport whether it be a name change or some form of data correction or a limited passport book used for replacement. You will also need the original or certified copy of your marriage license or certificate or the government issued document that shows evidence of any court order with a legal name change under either state or federal law. It may be required that you submit one recent color photo.

The great thing about a simple name change within the last year is that is free of charge unless you require the expedited service. Please use a traceable form of mailing and use a mailing packaging that is of suitable size and provides adequate protection for the documents inside.

When it comes to the photo requirements, they must be printed on photo quality paper and be 2 x 2 inches, or 51mm x 51mm in size. It must have been taken in the last 6 months taken in plain view without any sort of obscurities that would prevent your identification. You should wear your normal daily clothes along with any needed hearing aids, glasses etc. Hats are not permissible unless it is for religious purposes. Regardless though, the entire face must be visible and there may be no shadows casted on top of your face, for whatever reason.

The second scenario is if your passport was issued more than 1 year ago and since then you have had your name changed legally due to a court order or you got married. If this is the case, then you must mail in your current valid US Passport, the completed form (DS-82 as opposed to DS-5504) which is the actual application for a passport. You should NOT use DS-5504. You will still need the original or certified copy of your marriage license or certificate or the government issued document that shows evidence of any court order with a legal name change under either state or federal law. It may be required that you submit one recent color photo if you need to update the photo on file.

You are for the most part applying for a brand new passport. Due to the fact that you are filling out for DS-82, you must be pay the renewal fee involved with getting a new passport which is $140 for the passport and card, $110 for just the passport book, and $30 for just the passport card. Again, please ensure that you use a traceable form of delivery.