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Passport Book vs. Passport Card: What's the Difference?

There has been some confusion as to what to use for government issued photo identification when traveling internationally. There is the Passport Card and then there is the Passport Book, one of them isn’t what you think it is.

The Passport Card is a wallet-size travel document that is “Real-ID” Compliant for domestic travel and can be used only to re-enter the United States at LAND border-crossings or port-of-entry by sea from Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean Islands and Bermuda. The Passport Card provides a less expensive alternative to purchasing the Passport Book and is the perfect fit for those who DO NOT FLY INTERNATIONALLY. That is the KEY no INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS! I cannot stress this enough as there have been instances where a traveler mistakenly thought they could use the Passport Card to fly to places like Mexico and The Caribbean Islands only to be turned away from the airline or worse, arrive at their destination only for the Immigration Officer deny them entry. Then the traveler has get back on a flight home to obtain a Passport Book.

The Passport Card does have the same validity time frame as the Passport Book: 10 years for those 16 years and older and those who are under 16 years of age, 5 years maximum before they must renew. Currently, the cost is 55.00USD for those 16 years and older, 40.00USD for those under 16 years of age and renewals by mail cost 30.00USD for those 16 years and older.

The Passport Book is slightly larger than the Passport Card (5” x 3.5” when closed) and it is also “Real-ID” Compliant for domestic travel. The Passport Book has a small photo of you inside the book with several blank pages for Immigrations to be able to stamp your book as well as pages for Visas for those countries that require a Visa to enter their country. This Passport Book allows you to travel internationally whether it be by air, sea or land. This includes destinations such as Mexico, The Caribbean Islands, Canada, Great Britain, Europe, Asia, Africa, etc.

Validity of the Passport Book is the same as the Passport Card, 10 years for those who are 16 years and older and 5 years for those under 16 years of age. The current cost is 135.00USD for those 16 years and older and 105.00USD for those under 16 years of age. Renewals by mail are 110.00USD for those 16 years and older.

Most countries require that your Passport Book be valid at least 6 months beyond your intended return to the United States and even if the country requires the passport to be valid less than 6 months beyond your intended return to the United States, most airlines follow the 6 months rule to be on the safe side.

Protect your Passport Book by putting it in a Passport Book Cover. Should the Passport Book get damaged by water, bent from being in seat pocket, dog chewed the corners, etc., you could be denied boarding the plane.

For the most up-to-date rates, information and questions, please visit:

Bonnie is the owner/operator of Connections by O'Brien Travel, LLC. and has been in the travel industry helping families and couples with their dream vacations since 1981. Bonnie can be reached at 603-635-4981, via email at

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