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What Is a Passport Card?

Date posted: 08/10/2012

by Kat Saks on
in Moving & Traveling

4397 What Is a Passport Card?True or false: When you travel across a national border, you always need to bring your passport book.


Many people think that a passport book is an international travel essential. In some cases, though, you can leave your passport book at home and travel with a passport card instead.

Learn all about passport cards so you can determine the best documentation for you.

What is a Passport Card?

A passport card is a wallet-sized, laminated card that looks similar to a drivers license. It’s not an enhanced driver license (EDL) or enhanced id (EID), but it functions in similar ways.

The United States government began issuing passport cards in 2008 as an alternative to the passport book in some travel instances. Passport cards remain valid for 10 years for adults and for five years for minors.

Each passport card comes equipped with a microchip that provides a unique identifying number to each passport card holder. These vicinity frequency radio activated microchips do not store personal information on them. Rather, they provide a unique number that can locate a secure personal record within the government’s databases. This technology helps make border crossings more secure and helps make border crossing lines move faster.

Who Can Use a Passport Card?

Any U.S. citizen can apply for a passport card. The U.S. government issues passport card to both adults and minors.

When Can You Use a Passport Card?

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can use a passport card to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda when traveling by land or by sea. You cannot use a passport card to fly internationally.

Why Use a Passport Card?

The passport card provides numerous benefits for U.S. citizens traveling across U.S borderlines:

  • Less expensive than a passport book.
  • Easier to carry than a passport book.
  • Convenient option for U.S. citizens who travel across U.S. borders frequently or live in border communities.

The next time your travels take you across the U.S. border to a neighboring country, consider using a U.S. passport card if you travel by land or sea. You might find a whole new level of convenience in your travel experience.

Do you have a U.S. passport card? What do you think about this form of documentation? Let us know in the comments section below.

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About Kat Saks

Kat Saks is a Denver-based writer and yoga teacher. She is also Firefly Partners' Client Solutions Manager. She blogs for and shouts safe-driving tips to teens while driving the city streets. More articles by Kat Saks

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