Travel Leisure

The Passport Book vs Card: Which Is Universally Accepted?

The U.S. Department of State issues two types of government documentation for international travel. These documents allow travelers to have some flexibility in how they are identified while they travel internationally or domestically. Which type of identification is used can be up to personal preference depending on the type of traveling happening. 

The passport book and passport card have some similarities and differences that are important to keep in mind before choosing between the two. The main differences between these two are where they are accepted, who can use them and what information they provide.  

About the Passport Book

Passport books are the traditional identification type for international travel. But the size of passport cards has made travel easier, learn more about the differences between the two.

The traditional passport book is a common object that is often used for photo ops while traveling abroad, but it also serves a much more important purpose. While many go their whole lives never having a passport, it is impossible to travel internationally without one. A passport is a form of identification for international travel that verifies a person’s citizenship and over the years, is a type of travel diary. The cost of a passport application for first-timers over the age of 16 is $165 (the application cost is $130 and acceptance fee is $35), while those under the age of 16 are charged $135 (the application fee is $100 and acceptance fee is $35). 

Where Are Passport Books Accepted as Identification?

Passport books serve a universal purpose and are accepted for all forms of international travel throughout the world. A passport is a precious document, so if it is lost during travel or while abroad the traveler is required to recover or replace it before returning to the United States. The U.S. Embassy or consulate will be able to assist in this process. 

Who Uses Passport Books?

The passport book is available to U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals. It is used for international travel by means of air, sea or land. People of all ages can have a passport, in fact, many people have passports before they can even read due to their frequent flier family. If you are old enough (at least 16 years of age or older), the passport book will be valid for 10 years. 

What Information Is Inside the Passport Book? 

Passport books include a photo of the traveler and a unique number to identify the particular book. Personal information within the first few pages of the book includes the traveler’s full name, date of birth, nationality, sex, birth place and the book’s issue and expiration date. 

Although the standard passport book is 28 pages, the majority of the passport book is actually empty. The reason the rest of the pages of the passport book are empty is so that travelers can fill them with passport stamps, which has become a fun collectors activity for frequent travelers. Those that anticipate frequent international travel can request a 52 page passport book. 

More on Passport Cards

Passport cards are an alternative identification type that some travelers prefer. Learn more about the passport book vs card.

Passport Cards are a type of identification used for land crossings and sea ports into the United States. These types of passports are easily transportable due to their small size and condensed information. The cost for first time passport card applications is $65 for adults and $50 for children (under the age of 16). 

Passport Cards Are Valid in Limited Locations

The passport card is only acceptable as an identification document for travelers going to Mexico, Canada, Caribbean countries or Bermuda by sea or land from the United States. The card cannot be used for international air travel but can be used as identification for domestic flights. 

Who Can Utilize a Passport Card?

The card version of the passport was made for the ease of travelers that frequently pass through U.S. bordering countries. All U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals are eligible for a U.S. passport card. 

What Information Does the Passport Card Contain?

A passport card contains nearly identical information to the passport book. Details like the traveler’s full name, nationality, date and place of birth, sex, and issue and expiration date are all on the card. The only difference is that the identification card gets a unique passport card number.

The passport card is about the size of a driver’s license, so it easily fits in a wallet but does not include much other than personal identification information.

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