U.S. Passport Book or Passport Card – Which Should You Get?

This is a question many travelers ask when applying.  What is the difference between a passport card and a passport book?  Which is best for you?  The answer lies in your travel needs.  Some travelers benefit from the card while the majority are better off with the book.  You may choose to get both if you prefer.  To understand which is best for you it is important to note what you can do with each one.

A new passport book and new passport card are valid for the same time.  For an adult the validity is 10 years for both and for children under 16 the validity is 5 years.  The cost of the new passport book is more expensive than the passport card.  That is what makes the passport card more appealing.  That said, there is a reason it is more expensive.  The new passport book allows you to leave the U.S. by any means of travel while the passport card is only good for leaving the U.S. under certain means of travel.

A passport card is good for cruise or boat travel from the U.S. to places in the Caribbean and if you are driving into Canada or Mexico.  That’s it.  It doesn’t allow for much more and even for cruises or boating you do need to check with the cruise line as some areas do not accept the passport card and require you to have a passport book.  It is NOT good for airline travel.  If you are boarding a plane, the passport card will NOT get you on board and not having the passport book will be a problem.

A passport book is good for all types of travel.  It can be used for the same purposes as that of a passport card and is good for all flight travel.  Just be careful of the validity and know if a visa or entry payment is required on top of just the book.

That said, the passport card is a very good piece of identification.  It is given to you by the Department of State and has all the markings of a government issued ID.  While it may not be good to board the plane it is a valid proof of identification in the States and a valid proof of citizenship.  Many travelers get the passport card IN ADDITION to the passport book just so that they can travel with both and keep the passport safe in the hotel while they explore with the passport card.

To get either one requires the same types of documentation.  You must prove that you are a U.S. citizen by providing your birth certificate, older passport or a Naturalization Certificate along with a valid ID.  You can choose to rush the passport card as well as the passport book if you so desire.  The government fees apply to both but you only have to pay the expedite fee once rather than for each one if you decide to rush your passport request.  Our Miami and Orlando offices can assist you with rush passports and rush passport cards.  Visit our site at www.passportsvisasandmore.com or at 888-336-0683.

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First Steps Needed To Begin A New Passport For U.S. Born Citizens

us passportApplying for a First Time or New Passport may seem like an exciting venture.  We have found that having a new passport opens the doors to many different destinations and whole new aspect to travel.  However, if you do not have the right materials to start you could be looking at a very frustrating process.  Believe it or not, a naturalized citizen has an easier time getting a passport than someone born in the United States.  That’s because the proof of citizenship they have is recent while a U.S. born citizen has to depend on presenting a birth certificate that was most likely kept by their parents in safe keeping away from you for years.  Here are some tips to helping ensure that your new passport application gets off on the right track:

  1. Make sure you have a valid birth certificate. Your birth certificate must have your parents’ names.  The date of your birth, the county/city where the birth occurred and cannot say Abstract on it.  Be careful of abstract birth certificates.  These are birth certificates given by the county but do not show parentage and are not accepted for a new passport.  The Passport Office requires a certified long form of the birth certificate which features your parentage.   The link below will give you some tips to help with finding out if your birth certificate will be good for passport purposes:  https://blog.vitalchek.com/birth-certificates/determine-birth-certificate-official/
  2. Make sure your birth certificate is in good condition and is not a photo copy. The link in step #1 will help you to determine if the birth certificate is good or just a copy.  Also keep in mind that if it is torn apart to the point where information is missing the passport office may deny it.  If it is laminated it may also be rejected because by laminating the birth certificate you have tampered with it making it potentially unacceptable.  If your birth certificate is severely damaged or laminated you may order a new one using the same link as above:

*For out of state birth certificates try this link:  https://www.vitalchek.com/

*For travelers born in Orlando, Miami or other parts of Florida try this link:  http://www.floridahealth.gov/certificates/certificates/index.html

  1. Make sure your birth certificate does not have any errors. Such errors will be put on the passport and will make it harder to correct later on.  You must contact your county where you were born for information on data correction of a birth certificate.  Use this link as a guide to correct your passport:  https://blog.vitalchek.com/birth-certificates/correct-change-birth-certificate/
  2. Make sure you have a valid state identification either as a driver’s license or a learner’s permit. Here is a list of acceptable identification:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/identification.html
  3. Your passport photo is extremely important. Please do not overlook this part and take it as seriously as possible.  Be sure that you have recent and quality photos.  The Passport Agency requires a photo taken less than 6 months ago.  We recommend 3 months just to be sure.  We do not know how the Passport Agency knows but they know when a passport photo is older than 6 months.  Once they know it will cause a delay in your application which could cause you to miss your trip.   For more information on that see:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/photos.html

 

While having these items helps get the process started it does not mean that the Passport Agency will accept your documentation.  Your name and information still have to clear their systems. We can help you with a rush new passport if you have a need.  We have offices in Orlando and Miami that would be happy to assist.  We can be reached at 888-336-0683 or visit our site at www.passportsvisasandmore.com