Passport Book vs. Passport Card Differences: Which Do I Need in 2023?
The U.S. Department of State issues both traditional passport books and passport cards. Both are used for international travel, but there are a few key differences. Here is how to decide whether to get a passport book, a passport card, or both.
Table of Contents
Passport Book vs. Passport Card – Main Features Compared
Passport books allow holders to travel internationally by air, land, or sea; Passport cards only allow holders to travel internationally to certain countries by land and sea.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of each.
|Passport Book||Passport Card|
|Initial Cost||$165 for those 16 and older|
$135 for those 15 and under
|$65 for those 16 and older|
$50 for those 15 and under
|Renewal Cost||$130 for those 16 and older||$30 for those 16 and older|
|Who is Eligible?||U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals||U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals|
|Validity Length||– 10 years for those 16 and older|
– 5 years for those 15 and under
|– 10 years for those 16 and older|
– 5 years for those 15 and under
|Purpose||International travel by air, land, or sea||International travel to & from certain countries by land and sea|
|Fits in Wallet?||No||Yes|
The Passport Book
This is the traditional book when you think of what a passport looks like. It has 28 or 52 pages available for stamps and visas. It is valid for 10 years, so consider how many pages you think you will need. Unlike the passport card, the passport book allows you to travel internationally via air.
Here is the personal information you will find in a passport book.
- Your Name (via surname and given name fields)
- Date of Birth
- Your Sex
- Place of Birth
- Passport Insurance/Expiration Dates
- Your Passport Number
- Your Photograph
Due to its size, it will not fit in your wallet.
The Passport Card
This is a card that will fit in your wallet. It is perfect for those who only wish to travel by land or sea to select countries — Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean Countries, and Mexico. Unfortunately, it does not allow you to travel internationally via air. It is valid for 10 years, so it is an affordable REAL ID if you do not have any other forms such as a compliant driver’s license.
Passport cards contain the same personal information as passport books.
Why You Should Get Both a Passport Book and a Passport Card
I have both a passport book and a passport card. Sure, it cost me more money, but I think the benefits are worth it.
The Passport Card is a Real ID That Fits in Your Wallet
The REAL ID deadline is May 7, 2025. Assuming it does not get pushed back again, you will need a REAL ID by that date to fly from a United States airport. Passport books and passport cards are both REAL IDs, but only the card fits in your wallet. That is very convenient when flying domestically and you do not feel like bringing your larger passport book.
Here are a few other acceptable REAL IDs.
- United States Passport or Passport Card
- Permanent Resident Card
- DHS Trusted Traveler Card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- REAL ID-Compliant Driver’s License
- Border Crossing Card
- United States Department of Defense ID
- Military ID
It is More Convenient to Carry the Passport Card When Traveling By Land or Sea
Passport cards allow you to travel by land or sea to the United States from Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean Countries, and Mexico. Passport books do as well, but they are bigger and do not fit in your wallet. If you frequently travel to those countries, you should get a passport card to make things easier.
It is Cheaper to Apply for Both at the Same Time
Those considering both should apply at the same time; It is cheaper.
- It costs $195 for those 16 and older to apply for both ($35 discount)
- It costs $160 for those 16 and older to renew both (no discount)
- It costs $150 for those 15 and under to apply for both ($35 discount)
Unfortunately, there is currently no discount when renewing both.
Should I Only Get a Passport Card?
Probably not because it gives you no flexibility when traveling internationally. Sure, you can travel to a few countries via land and sea ports, but you cannot use it to fly. Unless you are certain you will not travel via air internationally in the next 10 years, you should also get a passport book.
Further Reading on Passports
- How to Check Your Passport Application Status
- How to Get a Passport Faster – Ways to Speed Up & Expedite the Process
- How to Take Your Own Passport Photo at Home
- Passport Processing Times Right Now
Yes, you can have both at the same time.
Yes, they both are.
Passport books are more expensive than passport cards
Passport books allow holders to travel internationally by air. Passport cards only allow holders to travel internationally to select countries by land or sea ports.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
Most people only need a passport book. Even if you only plan to travel to certain countries by land or sea, I still recommend getting a book for the flexibility; You never know what kind of trips you will want to take in the next 10 years. Learn how to apply for a passport book or card by clicking here.
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