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Your Guide to Choosing a Passport Book vs. Card

The passport book vs card question is one you may have if you are a first-time international traveler. Both of these documents give you the ability to travel outside of the country. However, each of these items comes with certain restrictions regarding when you can use them. Likewise, there is a specific passport application fee that you are responsible for paying for each of these documents. This fee varies, depending on the document you request and how old you are.

If you are wondering about the difference between a passport book and card, you are not alone. However, it is important that you understand how these items differ so you can choose the one that is best for you. Once you determine which passport can support your travel plans, you may submit your passport application for your desired document.

What is a passport card?

A US passport card is a limited international identification document. Like other federal identifiers, the U.S. Department of State is responsible for issuing this card to qualified applicants. This document is REAL ID compliant, and you can use it for domestic air travel. Furthermore, the card allows you to travel by land or sea from the United States to the following destinations:

  • Mexico
  • Canada
  • Bermuda
  • Caribbean Islands

If you plan on visiting any of these destinations, you may need to file a passport application for this card. If you are older than 16 years of age, the card application fee is $30. If you are younger than 16, you will pay $15 for this item.

What is a passport book?

A passport book is the more versatile travel document when comparing the two types. This is the item that you probably think of frequently when considering a passport. With this document, you can:

  • Fly to international destinations
  • Travel by sea to other countries
  • Cross over land borders into other nations

Apply for a passport book if you plan on traveling abroad to countries that do not border the United States. However, keep in mind that the book is more expensive than the card. If you are an adult applicant, the application fee is $110. If you are a child, the fee is $80.

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Should I get a passport book or card?

Once you know the differences between these documents, you can decide between requesting a passport card vs passport book. The book offers more flexibility for you if you plan on doing extensive international traveling. However, the card is more economical because you can obtain it by paying a lower application fee.

Additionally, keep in mind that there are some similarities between the US passport card and book. Both of these items are valid for adults for 10 years. Conversely, children’s passports can be valid for a maximum of five years. If you still cannot decide which document is right for you, remember that you can always purchase both. If you want to buy both documents, indicate this on your US passport application form.