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Passports vs. Passport Cards: Which One Is Right For You?

Find out where a U.S. Passport can take you...and where it can't!

Being in the travel business, one of the most frequent questions I get is “Do I need a Passport to go to…..?”  Another question I hear quite often is “What about just using a Passport Card?” 

The Passport Card is a relatively new creation, and it’s managed to cause some confusion for American travelers.  At first, the lower cost of the Passport Card seems like the best deal.  However, when considering the options, you really should look at WHO each document was designed for, and HOW and WHERE it can and cannot be used. 

Here’s a quick comparison of each document, and what each entails:

U.S. Passport  

Adults: requires renewal in 10 years

Minors: requires renewal in 5 years

Cost:  Adults: NEW Passport: $135.00

                       Renewal:  $110.00

Minors (under age 16):  $105.00

The U.S. Passport is designed for people living or traveling abroad; people thinking about traveling or taking a vacation abroad; or people in a job that may require international travel. 

The U.S. Passport allows entry into the U.S. from international countries via land border crossings, seaports, and airports.

U.S.  Passport Card

Adults: requires renewal in 10 years

Minors: requires renewal in 5 years

Cost:  Adults: NEW Card: $50.00

           Former Passport: $30.00

Minors (under age 16): $35.00

The U.S Passport Card is designed for the specific needs of border resident communities.  It is not designed for global travel. 

The U.S. Passport Card allows entry into the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings and seaport entries only. The U.S. Passport Card cannot be used for international travel by air. 

Processing times vary depending on the time of year and volume of travelers applying, so it’s best to apply/renew a Passport or Passport Card well in advance. 

Cruise lines, tour companies, and resorts around the world strongly encourage travel with a full U.S. Passport.  The main reason?  In the event of an emergency, the Passport will allow you to fly back to the US – a Passport Card will not.  The U.S. Passport is also considered to be the most widely accepted and recognized travel document. 

Even if you’re not planning international travel in the immediate future, think about getting (or renewing) your Passport or Passport Card.  No one wants to miss the opportunity for a fun vacation or profitable business trip because they didn’t have the proper documentation! 

For more information on Passports, Passport Cards, and other travel documentation, please visit www.travel.state.gov.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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