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.