Passport Books VS Passport Cards

The U.S Department of State offers two forms of passports that you can apply for. There’s the universally recognized passport book, and there’s the small and sleek passport card. Which one is better? There are benefits from both, but it just really depends on the type of traveler you are. . 

The main difference between a passport book and a passport card is how and where each allows you to travel. A passport book is a universal form of travel identification. The book is the only way you’ll get on a plane to an international destination. Passport cards can be used when traveling by land or sea, but they have limitations. U.S citizens with a passport card can travel to Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean by land or sea. This applies to mostly traveling internationally by driving, and closed loop-cruises. 

The Basics of a Passport Book

A passport book is available for U.S citizens to be used for travel by air, land, or sea. They show proof of your identity and citizenship. For those with a passport who are 16 or older, their passport is valid for 10 years. If they are under the age of 16, their passport is valid for 5 years. 

The book is 5X 3.5 in size when it is closed. There are extra blank pages at the end of the book for stamps and visas. 

The Basics of a Passport Card

The passport card is the size of an identification card, making it convenient to use for travel. Once a passport card is issued it can be used to travel internationally by land, or sea. But only to specific places.  You cannot use a passport card for air travel. However, it is a form of acceptable ID and is valid for the same amount of time as a passport book.

The Benefits of a Passport Book

The passport book is the most universally exempted form of travel identification. You cannot get into most countries without one. The biggest benefit of a passport book by far is being able to travel internationally by air. Also, the book does not limit you to which countries you can travel to. A Passport book also includes pages for stamps and visas.

A passport book is also good to have in case of emergencies. If for some reason you need to fly back home, you need a passport book to be able to do so. 

The Benefits of a Passport Card

Passport cards conveniently fit in your wallet, making them easier to travel with than a passport book. They can be used to travel domestically. They can also be used at sea ports of entry or land border crossings for entry into countries listed below:

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Grenada
  • The Bahamas
  • Anguilla
  • Aruba
  • Dominica
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • Jamaica
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Montserrat
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Dominican Republic
  • Bermuda
  • Saint Lucia
  • Caribbean Netherlands

The passport card is good to have if you are someone who frequents cruises more than they travel by air. They can be used for international entry on closed-loop cruises. This means that the cruise starts and ends at the same U.S port. You can also use it as your child’s identification card, or your own. It doubles as a form of identification. The card is also useful for those who often cross the Mexican or Canadian border by land. The passport card also costs less than a passport book. 

 The Difference in Cost 

For passport books…

Passport books will run a little more expensive than a passport card.

For first-time passport books, the application fee will run you $130 dollars. If the book is for a child under 16, it will be $100. Both will also be charged a $35 acceptance facility fee.

If you are renewing your passport book, it will run you $130, or $100 for a minor under 16. You will not be charged the $35 acceptance facility fee for passport renewals. 

For passport cards… 

Passport cards are $30. If you are applying for a passport for the first time, you will be charged the $35 acceptance fee.

Do You Need Both?

The answer to this question does depend on what type of traveler you are. You want to consider what countries you most frequent or want to travel to. If your travel is mostly by sea or land, and you mostly travel between Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean, it may be more convenient for you to do so with a passport card. If you prefer to travel by air to countries in  Europe or Asia, you’re going to need a passport book. 

If you’re a frequent flyer, who doesn’t travel much by sea or land, you don’t necessarily need a passport card. If you don’t have a valid ID, if you are a cruiser or a driver, get that card for a more convenient experience. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to have both, and you can apply for both of them at the same time. 

Processing Times 

Do you have a trip coming up and need to apply for a new passport? Passport processing times can land you in a 6-10 week waiting room. Consider applying for an expedited passport with a private courier. 

Private couriers, like The Passport Office, can get you an expedited passport in as little as 3 days!

Apply with The Passport Office today and your expedited passport Tampa, Miami, Orlando, and Hollywood.

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