The United States has created elements to help travelers travel in and out of the country. Some of these measures that have been in place have changed the way many see travel destinations. One such change that has come to light is the shift to a passport card. This is not the same thing as a passport book, but acts in similar manners. For the purpose of traveling within several out of country destinations, one would need to get a card and not necessarily a book. This can seem a bit confusing at first glance, but the differences can illuminate the realities of travel overall.
First and foremost, the U.S. Passport Card is given to individuals that are traveling within specific regions close to the United States. This includes travel to Bermuda, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Canada. This makes it easy to travel between these destinations whether by land or sea. The limitation that is placed on this comes in regards to air. You cannot board an airplane with a card, as it will not be a valid measurement of citizenship or regulatory travel.
Adults that are over the age of 16 can apply and receive this for the first time at $55. However, a renewal card can be given at the rate of $30. Adults will have a limitation of use for 10 years, while children will only have validity of around 5 years. The cost for a minor under the age of 16 to procure a card of this type is $40.
The Application Process
The U.S. Passport Card is open to all citizens of the Unite States. If one already has a passport book then the requirements are not in place to have both. Once you have a passport book, you can use that to travel internationally and do not need an additional card nor is it mandatory in any case.
In order to procure a book or a card, one has to apply via mail. The form you’ll want to look for is entitled DS-82 and it will allow a person to apply for the first time. However, if you are seeking a card and do not have an existing passport book, it’s imperative to apply in person and not by mail using a different form. The form needed will be DS-11. There is no expedited shipping on this, as U.S. First Class Mail is the format of shipping used.
The U.S. Passport Cards given today have a RFID chip within them. These are secure and are not going to cause any distribution of sensitive information nor do they store sensitive materials. They are to help efficiency at border crossings. Furthermore, security steps have been put into place to ensure that forgery and counterfeiting is not possible. A sleeve is given with each release to ensure that it is not scanned with nefarious reasons.
The Difference Between Cards and Books
Some people may be confused as to the need and use of a card versus a book. In the past, U.S. Passport Books were the sole elements of travel for international distinctions. Today, that has changed thanks to technology and shifts in security measures. However, there are some differences in size, shape, and costs that come up front. The visual design is obvious as one is wallet sized and the other is not, while one is made of composite materials the other is not.
The costs associated with getting a book rises in contrast to a card. A card costs $55 for adults, meanwhile it costs $135 for adults to get a book. Renewals are also different, with a passport book costing $110 for adults and cards only costing $30. An individual can apply for both, but it isn’t required to have both, if you have applied for a book. The cost for dual applications is $165 for adults and $120 for children. These only last 10 years for adults and 5 years for minors.
Travel differences abound within the difference of these two options. U.S. Passport Cards are created to help people travel through sea ports and land entries of the border. Frequent travelers to and from Canada or Mexico, for instance, will have an easier time getting through with the card as it is easy to scan rather than a booklet. However, a booklet can be used as well. The main issue here is that a card cannot be used for traveling through the air. Only a passport book can be used to get to destinations by airplane.
While the card can be used for many stops, it’s imperative to understand that it is not available for air. Air travel requires a U.S. Passport Book that is valid, renewed, and is registered. A card will not allow the same measurements, and therefore should not be relied upon when booking travel across international lines.
Concerns With The Passport Card
Concerns in regards to the security of the card should not cause alarm. The U.S. Department of Security has made for each card to be stored with a specific chip that only works with travel databases used by border patrol crossing by land and sea. They will not work otherwise, and they cannot be duplicated, counterfeited, or forged. Unauthorized reading will trigger protocol that will cause the card to fail upon the next use.
The changes in the cards have been testing grounds for individual use and will most likely be used for identification in the future. However, as of now, since 2008 more than 7 million cards have been issued to U.S. Citizens looking to travel abroad. As such, if you are concerned with the security, you shouldn’t be. Applications can be submitted, and cards can be distributed within a span of a few weeks. Passport cards cannot be expedited, however, books can be expedited through the U.S. Post Office. Check local listings for a post office that handles passport book applications and expedited services, as not all branches work within the confines of this travel arrangement. The card is convenient, and made for easier travel through Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.