More Convenient Travel With a Passport Card

by erin on May 26, 2010

In this day and age, it is necessary to have an official form of ID for almost any type of travel. This is especially true when it comes to international travel, yet many people do not realize that they need a passport to travel to nearby countries such as Canada and Mexico. For this type of travel, the passport card offers a more convenient alternative to the traditional passport book.

Passport cards are an official document issued by the Department of State and look very similar to a driver’s license. In fact, it is a convenient form of alternative photo identification for someone who, for whatever reason, does not have a driver’s license. Since they were first produced in 2008, over two million passport cards have been issued to citizens of the United States.

The main thing that distinguishes the passport card from a traditional passport is that it cannot be used for international air travel. It can, however, be used for land border crossing in and out of the US. This means that it is an appropriate form of identification for travel between the US and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda. This makes it perfect for road trips and cruises but remember that, even in these nearby countries, passport cards cannot be used for air travel.

Although it cannot be used for all types of travel, there are many reasons to apply for this form of identification. Anyone who has ever traveled internationally knows that they spend every other minute checking their bags to make sure that their passport is where they left it. Passport cards can be kept conveniently in a wallet, so there is no need to go searching for them either on or prior to a trip.

The feature that makes passport cards so truly unique is the vicinity-read radio frequency identification, or RFID chip in each card. Each chip contains a unique number which is associated with records in a secure government database. Since there is no information written on the chip itself, holders can rest easy that their privacy is not being violated. The chip simply makes passing through a border quicker and more efficient.

Applying for passport cards is very similar to applying for a passport book. Applicants are required to present the same documents to prove their American citizenship and identity. In fact, it is possible to apply for a passport and passport card at the same time, on the same form. Both documents are typically received in four to six weeks or two to three weeks if they are ordered with expedited processing.

Just like a passport book, the card is valid for ten years for an adult and five years for a minor. There is a significant difference, however, in the costs. While a passport book costs ninety-five dollars for an adult and eighty-five dollars for a minor, the card only costs forty-five dollars for an adult and twenty for a minor. This is a significant savings that makes the card worthwhile for someone who has no plans to fly out of the country.

Whether traveling over a land border or simply looking for an alternate form of photo identification, the passport card is a wonderful alternative to the long-established passport. It does not require any additional paperwork or information and is easy to keep track of at all times. For international travel over land or sea, this is the most convenient and efficient way to go. Go to to find out more.

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