A Look At U.S. Passport Cards

by erin on June 17, 2010

In July 2008, the US State Department decided to provide a card for use as identification when crossing North American borders. It is also referred to as a PassCard and is intended for the convenience of Americans. What countries can it be used in? Who really benefits from using it? Find out what you need to know about the US passport card.

The passport card is a limited substitute for the passport booklet as proof of US citizenship. It can be used for land and sea trips to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. It cannot be used as an international travel document for any other countries and it is never applicable to flights.

People who frequently cross borders for work or play may find several advantages in the passport card. The greatest purpose for the card is to benefit the population of Americans that live in border towns. It is the size of a credit card, so it easily fits in your wallet, and the price is lower than the booklet. It is also believed that these cards will decrease the wait times at the border.

There are certain security features involved to protect the PassCard from counterfeiting. The RFID chip helps the security process at the border, but there is no personal identification information held within the chip. The American passport booklet and many credit and debit cards also have the same kind of chip. For those who feel that it is necessary, a sleeve is given with the card that blocks transfer of information.

The price is what most people look at to make their final decision. The traditional booklet costs one hundred dollars, compare that to the forty five dollar price of the PassCard. Just like the booklet, the card is valid for ten years for those over the age of sixteen. Under sixteen years of age the card is valid for five years.

The process for getting a PassCard is the same as the passport booklet. If you have never owned a passport, you will need to find a passport facility and appear in person. Bring with you a form of identification and your naturalization papers or birth certificate as proof of US citizenship. Your proof of citizenship and two 2×2 pictures will be sent for processing with your application. Your birth certificate will be included in the mail with your new PassCard.

For those who already have a passport, all of the necessary paperwork can be sent by mail. You can even use your passport booklet as proof of US citizenship. You will get it back when the card comes in the mail. It is also possible to both renew your booklet and receive a new card using the same application.

The application is very simple, the card form is convenient, and the price is economical. If North American travel is all that your require, perhaps the US passport card would be good for you. There are many places on the internet that can help you with getting a U S passport card of your own.

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