US Passport book vs. card; what is the difference? If you have decided to apply for a US passport, you may be confused about which to go for. Do you go for a passport card which s the cheaper option, or do you go for the standard passport booklet, which is more expensive? Are they the same thing, or is one superior to the other? In this post, we aim to expose the myth behind the legendary argument many have had over these documents. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is A US Passport Book?
The US passport boom is a travel document and a means of Identity that only US citizens qualify for. This document can be used for international travel regardless of whether you travel by air, land, or sea. Only individuals of 16 years and older are issued this document, but minors below 16 have been known to get it under special circumstances. Passport books have a validity of 10 years and come with a unique number not found in any other passport. The first page of a US passport book has an image of the owner, their full name, nationality, sex, and other personal information. The other pages are blank for immigration visas and stamps at Embassies and airports.
When applying for a visa, this is the only document accepted by foreign embassies; some may require your passport to have at least one blank page, while others may insist on 2-4 blank pages. Also, there are two types of passport booklets: the 28-page and the 52-page. If you are a frequent traveler, the 52-page version is the better option, as you may need more pages for entry and exit immigration stamps in the countries you visit.
The other type is the passport card. This card is also issued to US citizens and can be used for traveling but with some limitations. You can use a passport card for land travels across the Canadian and Mexican borders and sea trips aboard vessels, but you can’t use it for flights. Besides this limitation, the passport card serves the same purpose as the passport book.
It has the same validity and can fit into a wallet or your pocket. The front has the owner’s photograph, full name, date of birth, nationality, issue, and expiration date, including the unique card number. Interestingly, the passport card has a special inbuilt Radio Frequency ID activated at the service Lanes at the Mexico and Canadian border.
US Passport Book Vs. Card: How Do They Differ?
Now that you know the difference between the two, you should also know some basic characteristics.
Mode of Use: While a passport book can be used for air, land, and sea travels, a card can only be used for land and sea, but not for air trips. Cards have limitations, too, as you can only use them to visit Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda, but you can’t use them for any other country. In addition, the card is not valid at European seaports.
Format: A passport book is 3.5 by 5 inches with blank pages for stamps, while a passport card has no pages and is not designed for stamps. Books are also bulkier.
Cost: Passport cards are cheaper, with a standard application fee of $35, while passport books cost more, ranging from $130-$160 for adults and $80-$130 for children. As for renewals, they cost the same.
Should You Get Both?
Do you get both or only go for one?
As a US citizen, you are eligible to apply for both, so if you can afford to apply for both, then go ahead to do so. However, you should consider your travel plans if you only have one option.
A passport card will suffice if you only see yourself traveling to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. However, if you plan to travel to other nations besides those mentioned, you must apply for a passport booklet. In addition, traveling by air is only possible if you have a passport card, even if you are traveling to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, or the Caribbean, as airlines do not accept passport cards.
In terms of identity documents, you may also opt for a passport card if you don’t have a driver’s license or any other means of Identity. It will also interest you that local airlines operating within the US accept passport cards as means of Identity to all 50 States.
The best advice for US passport book vs. card is to apply for both and save up to $35 on the application fee rather than apply separately. With both, you can reserve your booklet for international trips outside the continent while you use the card as a standard ID card and for border trips only.