How a Passport Card Differs From a Passport Book

By: Kat Saks August 10, 2012
Share This Page
Share Pin It Email Print

No two government ID documents are alike. While government-issued identification might seem to provide the same information, each ID has unique characteristics. Passport cards and passport books are no exception.

Learn more about how a passport card differs from a passport book.

Using Passport Books vs. Passport Cards

A passport book provides valid identification for any national or international travel. Your passport book allows you to travel by land, by sea, or by air.

A passport card provides valid identification for national travel, but only provides valid identification for certain types of international travel. You can use your U.S. passport card to travel from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda. You can only use the passport card for travel by land or by sea; you can't use it for air travel.

Validity of Passport Books and Passport Cards

The U.S. passport book and the U.S. passport card share the same terms of validity:

  • Valid for 10 years for adults.
  • Valid for five years for minors under age 16.

Passport Books and Passport Cards: Size Matters

A passport book is bigger than a passport card. When closed, a U.S. passport measures 5 inches by 3.5 inches. A passport card fits in your wallet, making it a more convenient form of ID to carry on certain trips.

Paying for Passport Cards and Passport Books

When you apply for a passport card, you'll spend less money than you would when applying for a passport book. Below is a brief, non-comprehensive cost breakdown of each option. A $35 execution fee is included in the total price. 

Passport Books

  • First-time adult applicant: $130
  • First-time minor applicant, younger than 16: $105
  • Adult passport book renewal: $110

Passport Cards

  • First-time adult applicant: $55
  • First-time minor applicant, younger than 16: $40
  • Adult passport book renewal: $30

When you apply for a passport book and a passport card at the same time, adults pay $165 and minors younger than 16 pay $120.

If your travel plans take you to a country bordering the U.S., a passport card can serve as a convenient, lower-cost form of identification. Consider using a passport card for your next border crossing by land or by sea.

Do you have a U.S. passport card? What do you like about it? Tell us in the comments section.

Recent Articles