US Passport book vs. Passport card – Understanding Each in Detail

Passport is a document providing national identity and identification of an individual. Infact for traveling abroad, one needs a passport for sure. Many people do not know but power of passports vary from one country to another. For instance, US passport is considered to be one of the strongest passports in the world. In USA, the passport is issued by the U.S State Department.

Two versions of US passport

It is extremely interesting to know that the U.S Department of State offers two versions of a passport. The first version is the conventional passport book and the second one is in the form of passport card. There are similarities as well as differences between the two options, which will be further discussed here. In short, in the traditional format of the passport book, there are pages where the arrival/departure stamps and the visa stamps can be given. On the other hand, the passport card is a kind of an ID card, which is the size of a credit card. Depending on your travel plan and the amount of money you can invest for the travel documents, you can choose between passport card and passport book. Infact many people have both the passport card and the passport book and use as per need and convenience.

What are passport cards and passport books?

Passport cards – These are kind of US passport only, which are in the size of a driver’s license or credit card. These passport cards have been made available to US citizens since the year 2008. Passport cards are believed to be extremely convenient way of proving your US citizenship and identity. These cards are extensively used for sea and land travel to countries like Mexico, Canada, Caribbean and Bermuda. However, these cards are not eligible while traveling to any international destination. Even visa stamps cannot be provided on these cards as there is no space or option for the same.

Passport books–Passport books are actually the traditional passports that we see commonly. Available in booklet format, it is an accredited travel and identification document. The US passport has dark blue cover. In the general passport, there are 28 pages. Visa stamps can be affixed on the blank pages of the passport. Along with this, entry and exit stamps are also provided on the blank pages of the passport. Along with proving citizenship and national identity, the passport book can be used for any kind of international travel purpose.

Benefits of passport cards

Lots of US citizens get passport cards done for the various advantages that these cards offer. Some of the most important ones among them include:

• Small in size and easy to carry – As mentioned previously, passport cards are size of a credit card and can be easily fitted into your wallet. You can keep the card with you and carry the same in the most hassle-free manner.

• Can be used for nearby travel–Passport cards can be used for sea and land travel to destinations like the Caribbean, Canada, Bermuda and Mexico. Other travel documents are not needed by US citizens for visiting these places.

• Expense is lower –The expense of getting a passport card is much lower than that of getting a passport book. Approximate cost of passport cards is around $30; while that of passport books is about $110.

• Official identification for all–Everyone cannot afford or get a passport book. For non-drivers and children, having a passport card is the most convenient way of establishing official identification. They can also be made more quickly when compared to passports.

Benefits of passport book

Whenever we think of US passport, the booklet form is what comes to the mind. Here are the advantages of the passport book:
Travel to any destination – When you need to travel to any international destination, you will definitely need a passport in the form of booklet. This is valid for all kinds of international travel – by air, water or land – whichever way you choose.

For visa stamps and other permits–Until and unless you have a passport in the form of booklet, the visa stamps cannot be affixed on the same. Also in many places there are on arrival permits, which are given on the passport only. During the departure too, some kind of entry is made in the passport. This is not possible with passport cards.

Evidence of citizenship and identity – It is needless to say that a passport booklet is a grave evidence of citizenship and identity for any US citizen. Along with acting as identity proof, the document also acts as citizenship proof. Other than that, many other personal information are furnished in the passbook.

Disadvantages of passport cards

There are few problems of having passport cards, though they might have some conveniences. Some of the disadvantages are as follows:

• Not suitable for international air travel–Passport cards cannot be used for international air travel. Hence their use is limited.
• Travel visas cannot be acquired with passport cards–If you have a passport card, you will not be able to acquire visa stamps or not be able to get permit stamps on the passport card. Passport card – people who would need it the most Though there are some disadvantages of passport cards, they have proved to be quite useful for some people. Read on to know who can benefit from the passport card:
• Children who are very young and cannot get a driver’s license can get a passport card. Infact state issued identification card also has some age restriction and such children can get passport card.
• There are many people who need to cross the Canadian or Mexican border by train or car frequently. For such people having a passport card is an easy option than carrying a passport booklet.
• Passport card is very useful for non-drivers, who look for small sized identity documents so that they can be kept in the wallet. In this regard, there is no better option than passport card.
• Passport card is also extremely useful for yachtsmen and sailors, who have to sail between Canada, US, Mexico and the Caribbean in international waters.

However, if you are traveling by cruise, it is recommended to have a passport so that if there is an emergency situation, the passengers can fly to the US by air and without a passport booklet that would not be possible. Now that you know the similarities, differences and advantages and disadvantages of passport card and booklet, decide which one you need and which one will serve your purpose best.