The United States Government issues two different types of travel documents for its citizens; a passport book and a passport card. While both of these documents are used as identification for travel purposes, they differ from each other related to where you can go with each document and in terms of appearance. 

Differences Between the US Passport Card and the US Passport Book

The main difference between a passport book and a passport card is that a passport card can only be used when crossing land borders or seaports in Canada, Mexico, and a few other North American countries. On the other hand, a passport book can be used for international and domestic travel from the US either by air, land, or sea. 

Here are a few other notable differences between a passport card and a book:

US Passport CardUS Passport Book
Valid for travel (land or sea) within only the US and some North American territories. Valid for international and domestic travels.
It costs $65.It costs $165
It’s smaller in size, similar to an ID.It’s issued in the form of a small booklet.

Passport Card Number VS Passport Number

Your passport book and passport card have two different numbers. Passport card numbers start with the letter C followed by eight numbers, while your passport book has nine digits that are unique to each US citizen. 

Passport Card Fees VS a Passport Book

A passport book for adults costs $165 compared to a passport card which is much cheaper at $65. But, the fees for a passport card and book differ based on the age of the applicant: 

Passport Book FeesPassport Card Fees
For first-time applicants (adult): $165For first-time applicants (adult): $65
For first-time applicants under 16: $135 For first-time applicants under 16: $50
For renewals (adults and minors): $130For renewals (adults and minors): $30

Please note that you are also required to pay an execution fee of $35 for both types of applications.

Who Is Eligible for a Passport Card and Book? 

Only lawful US citizens can apply for a passport card or a passport book. Please note that this does not include Green Card holders— you can use your Green Card to travel in Canada, Mexico, and a few other countries, but you have to use your passport issued from your home country for international travel. 

Also, you must have no criminal record to qualify for a passport book or card. 

How Does a Passport Card Look VS a Passport Book?

The US passport book is issued in the form of a booklet with several pages and your information— its size is roughly 5’’ X 3.5’’ when closed. A passport card is much smaller, the same size as an ID or driver’s license, and it’s made up of plastic. 

Here is an example of what a passport book and a card look like: 

Passport Card Example. Source: travel.state.gov
Passport Book Example. Source: travel.state.gov

Passport Card Validity VS Passport Book 

A passport book and card are valid for ten years. However, the validity period of these documents is shortened to five years for applicants under 16— those applicants have to re-apply for their new passport card or book after 16 years old. 

How to Get a Passport Card? 

To get a passport card, you must submit an application at the passport acceptance office in two following ways: 

  1. Apply in person. If you are applying for a passport card or book for the first time, you have to submit your application in person at a passport office near you (post office, clerk of court, or library). 
  2. Apply via mail. This option is available for you if you already have a passport and want to apply for your passport renewal. You must send your previous passport card or book with your application. 

Application Process for a Passport Book

The process for getting a US passport book for the first time is as follows: 

  1. Fill out the application form. You have to fill out form DS-11 for your passport application. Please note that you must use the Form Filler tool to complete your form online and then download it— you are strongly advised not to make any changes by hand after your print out your filled out application form as this will cause a delay in processing your application. 
  2. Prepare your documents. You need to prepare several documents for your passport application, such as proof of your US citizenship, i.e., birth certificate, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, photocopy of your national ID, and one identification photograph.
  3. Pay the application fee. You have to submit the application fee to the visa acceptance office. Please note that only checks are accepted, and credit and debit cards are invalid. 
  4. Submit your application. Finally, you have to submit your application in person to your corresponding passport office, which you can locate here. If you want to apply at the post office, you must make an appointment on USPS.com. 

It usually takes an average of ten weeks to get a passport from the US government. 

Can I Apply for a Passport Book and Card at the Same Time?

Yes, you can submit your application for both a passport card and book simultaneously. But, you can apply for them separately depending on which one you need for your travels. 

Where Can I Go With a Passport Card?

You can only travel to the following countries with a passport card:

AnguillaGrenada
Antigua and BarbudaJamaica
ArubaMexico (within the border zone)
BermudaMontserrat
British Virgin IslandsSaint Kitts and Nevis
CanadaSaint Lucia
Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire; Sint Eustatius and Saba; Curaçao; Sint Maarten)Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Cayman IslandsThe Bahamas
DominicaTurks and Caicos Islands
Dominica Republic

Can I Use My Passport Card for Domestic Flights?

Yes, your passport card is valid for domestic flights within the US, but you need your passport book for international visits. 

Do I Need a Passport Card and Book?

You do not need to have both a passport card and a passport book. You can choose which one suits your situation best. For example, your passport card will suffice if you are a frequent traveler across Canada and Mexico. But, if you are planning to travel to other international countries, you can get your passport book. 

Passport Card and Book Denial Reasons

Your application for a passport book or card may be denied if one of the following applies to you: 

  • You provided wrong information. 
  • You are missing something from your documents. 
  • Your photo does not follow the guidelines for a passport picture. 
  • There is a mistake in your birth certificate. 
  • You changed your name and did not provide the correct documents. 
  • You owe child support. 
  • You owe taxes to the IRS. 
  • You are under legal procedure. 

If the reason for your rejection is easily fixable, the US government will usually send you a letter or an email and ask you to rectify your mistake and then proceed with your application.

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