As a US citizen, there are two options available for identification when traveling outside of the United States, a passport book and passport card. They both act as alternatives to state-issued IDs but have different uses for when you travel.
In this article, we will go into more detail about using, protecting, and renewing a passport book vs passport card as well as answer some frequently asked questions.
Table of Contents
What is the Difference Between a Passport Book and a Passport Card?
The US offers a choice between a passport book and a passport card, but both serve different purposes and are significantly different prices. A passport card costs $65 whereas a passport book costs $145.
A passport book is a form of identification that also has several blank pages that are stamped when you travel to or leave an international destination. It can be used whether you are traveling by air, sea, or road
A passport card has a similar design to a state driver’s license. It includes your nationality, passport card no, birth date, place of birth, and a picture for identification.
Passport cards can only be used for travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean by land or sea. It CANNOT be used for international travel or for flights to the previously mentioned destinations. If you prefer to fly to these destinations, then you will need a passport book.
Related Article: Can You Use a Passport to Get into a Bar?
How do I Apply for a Passport Card or Book?
Travelers can apply for both a passport book and passport card simultaneously in person by using form DS-11 if you meet at least one of the following requirements:
- It’s your first time applying for US passport
- You are below age 16
- Your were under 16 years of age when your previous U.S. passport was issued
- Your previous U.S. passport was damaged, stolen, or lost
- It’s been 15 years since your previous U.S. passport was issued
If you already have a passport book, you can apply for the passport card using form DS-82 (must be eligible) as a renewal by mail even if it’s your first time. The fee is only $30 for this method.
To download or read more about the online application form, please visit the State Department’s website.
How do I Renew my Passport?
To renew a current passport book or passport card, submit form DS-82 by mail only if you answer “yes” to all of the statements below
- You have your passport in your possession to submit with your application
- You were at least 16 years of age when your current passport book or card was issued
- Your passport book or card was issued within the last 15 years.
- Your current passport book or card was issued in your current name or you can document your name change.
- The passport is undamaged other than the normal wear and tear.
If you didn’t meet all of the requirements listed above then you will have to apply in person using form DS-11.
Where Should I Store my Passport While I Travel?
While traveling in a foreign country, losing your passport can cause a variety of problems. It’s best to store your passport in your hotel room preferably in a safe and carry a photocopy of the identification page.
If a safe is not available, store the passport in your luggage, secure it with a travel lock, and place it in more secure location of your room. If you are also traveling with a group, consider giving a copy of your passport to your fellow travelers as well.
While in the airport, it’s recommended to use a passport holder to keep your card or book safe as well as your other travel documents you might be carrying. It guarantees it’s all in one location and makes it easier to access during transportation. Here are 5 of the best passport holders recommended for travel.
Top 5 Passport Holders
Top Pick: Zoppen Passport Holder
Why We Like It
- RFID Blocking
- Passed Euro REACH Quality Standard, US EN71, and US CA Prop 65 test
- Durable and lightweight
The durable and stylish Zoppen passport holder is an all-in-one travel wallet that comes with one cellphone pouch (max 5.8 inches), a pen and a key holder, one coin pocket (zippered), a passport pocket, 7 credit cards slots, on ID and coupon ticket slot, a SIM card holder, and a boarding pass compartment.
It’s made with premium eco-friendly synthetic leather which makes it easy to clean. The tri-fold compact design allows it to fit in almost any size tote bag, suitecase, or backpack. The RFID technology built into the Zoppen passport holder will help protect your credit cards while your traveling as well.
The Zoppen brand offers a variety of colors suitable not only for men but also for women such as rose gold, army green, black, navy blue, brown, yellow, and pink
Most Eco-Friendly: PASCACOO Passport Wallet
The PASCACOO passport wallet is crafted with eco-friendly leather which is soft to the touch but very durable for travel. It is equipped with an elastic band so it can be strapped to your carry-on suitcase or to your hand for safety.
RFID technology is built into the wallet to block 13.56 MHz signals or higher which keeps your credit card and personal information secure. The PASCACOO passport holder comes with an attached metal pin to open the sim slot on your iPhone or other mobile phones while you travel.
The PASCACOO brand features a wide range of colors to choose from as well.
Best Slim Design: Lewis N. Clark RFID Blocking Stash Neck Wallet
The Lewis N. Clark ultra-lightweight neck stash wallet uses RFID blocking technology to keep your information secure and it’s made of 100% nylon. It is only 7.5 inches tall by 5.5 inches wide and it designed to be thin enough that it can be easily hidden under a thin layer of clothing.
If you are in hot and humid place, the Lewis N Clark passport holder will protect your documents from moisture using it’s TravelDry Fabric technology on the back and the Rip-stop fabric on the front.
This passport holder features individual compartments, a mesh pocket, and an ID window making it handy for you to store your phone, receipts, cash and coins, passports, debit cards, travel documents, and other valuables.
The Lewis N Clark brands features 5 color options for it’s passport holders – taupe, gray, black, navy, and olive.
Best Leather: Villini Passport Holder
The Villini is a stylish passport holder made of genuine leather and is approximately 5.5 inches long and 4 inches wide making it easily hide-able to keep your documents safe. It includes four card slots, a money pocket, and a passport pocket.
This passport holder also comes with RFID blocking technology on both sides of the wallet and the design has a 3D embossed seal of the Unite states on the front as well as a view of the Brooklyn Bridge on back side.
The Villini Passport Wallet features 9 color options – Black Vintage, Brown Lacqered, Brown Vintage, Claret, Green, Light Blue, Navy Blue, Pale Pink, and Red Vintage.
Best Minimalist: WALNEW RFID Passport Holder
If you are traveling light or going somewhere for a weekend, we recommend the Walnew passport holder. It’s thin design allows it to fit easily in a backpack or carry-on bag.
It’s made of high quality PU leather and contains RFID blocking material. Even though this passport holder has a minimalist design, it can easily store multiple credit cards, ID’s, flight tickets, and a passport. It also comes with a slot for a pen and SIM card.
The Walnew passport holder also comes with an elastic strap to keep it closed and there are over 20 color options to choose from.
Why you Should Buy a Passport Holder?
Passport holders are not only handy, but they also protect all your valuable documents from sweat, stains, and pickpockets.
They are also great for keeping you organized. If you don’t want your travel essentials to be scattered in your day bag, a passport holder is the best way to hold all your documents for easier access at customs or airport security.
There are also options available that contain extra pockets for coins, ID cards, credit cards, and other travel documents.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use the same application to apply to both?
Yes. Form DS-11 or DS-82 can be used to apply for a passport book and passport card. To learn about the requirements for both, please visit the State Department’s website.
Which passport do I need to fly internationally?
A passport book is needed to fly internationally. A passport card only allows travel by sea or road to certain destinations.
Can I use a passport to get into a bar?
Yes, a passport can be used to get into a bar. Make sure that your information is up to date and that your passport isn’t expired.
Which passport do I need to go through a Ready Lane?
A passport card can be used to go through a ready lane. A ready lane is a lane for travelers entering the U.S. through a land border porter of entry.
These points of entry require documents with RFID technology o gain entry which is included in a passport card.
Do I need a passport book or card to go on a cruise?
A passport card or book can be used for Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. If you are traveling to any other location via cruise ship, then a passport book will be required.
It’s also recommended to check with your designated cruise line to verify if the card or book works best for checking in in case any rules/laws change.
Where can I get a passport photo taken?
Passport photo are typically available at Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, The UPS Store, Target, or USPS Office.
Why should I get a passport card instead of a book?
If you travel by land or by sea to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean, then the passport card would be the most economical option.
How long is a US passport card valid for?
A passport card and book are both valid for 10 years if you are 16 or older. If you are below 16, then they are both valid for 5 years.
Is it worth expediting the process to get a passport?
If you have an emergency or urgent international travel plans, then a passport expediting service is worth the cost.
Do I need a passport to go to the Bahamas?
It is possible to travel to the Bahamas from the U.S. without passport, but it’s not recommended. If there is an emergency that requires a flight home, a passport book will be required.
Do I need a passport for Puerto Rico or U.S. Virgin Islands?
Direct travel to either Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport. A valid US driver’s license or birth certificate is enough to show proof of US citizenship.