Traveling across the U.S. and some neighboring countries is easier than you think. There is a version of your passport book that is much more convenient for getting around. While it allows you to explore more than 20 countries freely, there are some limitations to travelling with a U.S passport card. Follow this post to learn more.
Why Would I Need It?
A USA passport card is a plastic identification document. Designed to simplify border crossing, it’s perfect for those citizens who frequently travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the Caribbean. It looks like a credit card and is a fully valid passport book alternative with a built-in nanochip. Linked to the government database, it confirms your identity. The ID also contains a photo of the citizen, as well as personal information.
A USA Passport Card Limitation
Note that it will be of no use if you want to travel by air. The card is only valid for sea or land trips. This is the only disadvantage of this type of ID. But if you live near the borders and travel a lot for work or pleasure, it’s more convenient to use a passport card instead of a traditional document.
- Small and portable. Its wallet-size allows you to carry it with you as if it was just another credit card
- Durable. Made of plastic, it’s not affected by water and is more tamperproof
- Universal. The card is accepted in most federal facilities, for domestic flights, etc.
- It features no sensible information that criminals may want to use. It doesn’t show your home address, organ donor status, or other personal information
- Easily restored if lost or damaged. Losing a passport book, on the contrary, means you’ll have to live through a complicated and long-lasting process of replacing it
How to Apply?
Make an appointment in one of the passport application facilities online or through a phone call. During the meeting, you’ll need to fill in a special form DS-11 and hand in your proof of U.S. citizenship. The latter will be returned by mail.
Do you have a passport book? Then you have the right to apply from home. There are 2 alternatives:
- Print out the form DS-82. Fill it in by hand (takes about 40 minutes) and send it by mail
- Complete the application online on the official website
What Does It Cost?
Citizens who apply for the first time will have to spend $65 to have the ID card issued. It’s cheaper if compared to the traditional passport, which is $145. Both types of identification documents are valid for 10 years. The renewal costs only $30.
What Is the Waiting Period?
Get primed for a little bit of waiting. The average time for the documents to get ready is 6-8 weeks. You can monitor its status on the official portal.
If you’re about to start traveling soon, order an express service and pay an extra $65 to have everything done faster, in 2-3 weeks. If it’s still too long to wait for you, schedule an appointment in one of the Regional Passport Agency offices. They process documents in less than 2 weeks.
Once the card is ready, you’ll get it by mail.
How to Take a Photo?
You can take a photo in pharmacies, photo studios, or post offices or online. The specifications are as following:
- 2×2” (5.1×5.1 cm) only
- A colored format
- A plain white background
- No older than 6 months
Wearing sunglasses is not allowed. As for prescription glasses, it’s better to take them off as they can cause glare which will spoil the image. If you can’t remove a hat or other head covering, remember to submit a statement. Write down religious or medical reasons and attach them to the application.
How You Can Get a 100% Acceptable Photo Online
Use an online service to get your US passport card photo adjusted to the requirements. One of the best services I used is Visafoto.com.
What’s the drill?
- Upload your selfie to the photo editing tool.
- Tap “Submit” and wait for the service to process the image.
- Download the file.
- Print the photo to attach it to the passport card application or send it online.
Traveling with a USA passport card is not equally convenient for everyone. So far, millions of Americans have been traveling with this document since 2008. The majority prefers them to passport books.