A U.S. passport card is a travel document that allows U.S. citizens to travel to and from certain countries by land or sea. It's a more convenient and less expensive alternative to a traditional passport book but it cannot be used for international air travel. If you're interested in applying for a U.S. passport card there are a few things you need to know before you begin the application process. This intro will provide you with an overview of the application process including the requirements, fees and timeline for receiving your passport card.
Eligibility requirements for a U.S. passport card
To be eligible for a U.S. passport card you must be a U.S. citizen and meet certain requirements. The U.S. passport card is not valid for international air travel but it is a convenient and less expensive option for land or sea travel. Here are the eligibility requirements for a U.S. passport card:
U.S. citizenship is a mandatory requirement to apply for a U.S. passport card.
A valid form of identification such as a driver's license is needed to prove your identity.
Proof of citizenship can be a birth certificate, previous passport book or card.
The applicant must be at least 16 years old to apply for a U.S. passport card.
Previous passport cards that were lost, stolen or damaged must be reported and cannot be renewed.
A recent color photo that meets the passport photo requirements including size, background and facial expression is required for the application.
To what extent do passport cards differ from passport books?
If you already have a passport card you may wonder why you also need a passport book. However, the two are not interchangeable in terms of their capabilities. The passport card's only purpose is to facilitate travel between the continents of North and South America. It's so they can keep their real passport booklets.
The United States passport book, on the other hand is the official document needed for foreign travel. The passport book may be used in place of the passport card. You may go anywhere you choose even inside the United States or North and South America. Therefore, the ability to travel to different countries is the key distinction between a passport and a passport card. When you go internationally you only need the book not the card. Passport books are valid in all countries but passport cards have restricted validity.
How to apply for a U.S. passport card
If you're looking to apply for a U.S. passport card two methods are available depending on whether you already have a passport book. Here's how to apply for a U.S. passport card:
With an existing passport book:
Complete Form DS-82, application for a U.S. Passport by Mail
Provide your current U.S. passport book, a recent color photo and the passport card application fee
Submit your application either online or by mail.
Your passport card will be mailed to you.
In person if you don't have a passport book:
Fill out Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport
Provide proof of U.S. citizenship, a valid form of identification, a recent color photo and the passport card application fee
Submit your application at a U.S. Passport Acceptance Facility.
Your passport card will be mailed within 4 to 6 weeks of submission.
A decision will be made after reviewing your passport card. If you meet the requirements there is no reason to reject you. The passport card will be sent to you by mail after your application has been approved. The card will be sent to the mailing address provided on the application. Whether you apply in person or by mail the passport facility will send your passport card. You may choose between normal and expedited shipping. However, processing times vary. The time it takes to get the passport card ranges from a few days to a few weeks.
Fees associated with a U.S. passport card application
When applying for a U.S. passport card there are several fees that you will need to pay including the passport card application fee, execution fee, expedited service fee and overnight delivery fee. These fees are subject to change so checking the U.S. Department of State's website for the most up-to-date fees before submitting your application is important.
Passport card application fee: $30 for adults ages 16 and over $15 for minors under age 16
Execution fee: $35 which is a separate fee paid to the acceptance facility for processing your application (only applies to first-time applicants and minors)
Expedited service fee: $60 which is an optional fee if you need your passport card expedited (in addition to the regular application fee)
Overnight delivery fee: $17.56 which is an optional fee if you need your passport card delivered via overnight mail (in addition to the regular application fee)
Note that fees are subject to change and you should check the U.S. Department of State's website for the most up-to-date fees before applying.