What’s the Difference Between Passport Book and Card?

What's the Difference Between Passport Book and Card?

If you’ve ever applied for or renewed a passport in the United States, you may have seen the option to buy both a passport book and a passport card. But I guess you’ve been wondering what the difference between passport book and card is.

Although both serve as proof of citizenship and identity in the United States, they are utilized for distinct types of travel.

Here’s all you need to know about the distinctions between a passport book and a passport card, as well as which one to acquire.

What’s the Difference Between Passport Book and Card?

Traveling overseas necessitates proper documentation, which normally includes a passport—the traditional, pocket-sized book with your portrait and blank pages for visa stamps.

But did you know that the United States offers another sort of passport? 

It’s known as a passport card. While passport cards have limits, they are frequently less expensive and easier to obtain than a passport book. 

Here’s all you need to know about the differences between passport books and passport cards, as well as how to choose the best one for you.

What is a Passport Book?

You usually imagine a passport book when you think of a passport. This book is the gold standard for foreign travel documents issued by the government of your native country.

Passport books are navy blue in the United States and count as a real ID, or type of nationally accepted identity.

Your portrait and personal information, such as your birthday, birthplace, and gender, are at the top of the book, as are your passport number, date of issue, and expiration date (passports are good for ten years).

Behind this are blank pages for visas, which are typically stamps or stickers obtained at a country’s border control.

What is a Passport Card? 

A passport card is a Real ID-compliant form of identification in the United States that allows you to travel to specific overseas destinations and by specific modes of transportation exclusively.

It is mainly used for land crossings into Canada and Mexico, but it also enables access by land and sea to Caribbean countries including Bermuda.

This card also resembles a driver’s license in appearance, with your portrait and personal information printed on the front.

Plus, it’s also small enough to fit within your wallet. A passport card, like a passport book, is valid for ten years.

Differences Between a Passport Book and a Passport Card

While both passport books and passport cards are government-issued forms of identification that allow you to travel overseas, they differ significantly. 

The most significant distinction is that passport books are accepted for all modes of foreign travel to all international locations, but passport cards are only valid for land and sea transportation to Canada, Mexico, Caribbean countries, and Bermuda. 

That means that if you’re flying abroad, no matter where you’re going, you’ll need a passport book.

They are also priced differently. Passport books have a $130 application and renewal charge, however, passport cards have a $30 application and renewal fee. 

There is also a $35 processing fee for both services. Passport books are pocket-sized booklets, whereas passport cards are the size of a typical ID and can fit in your wallet.

Should I Get a Passport Book or a Passport Card?

Passport books are required for most forms of international travel; if you want to fly internationally, you’ll definitely need one (and perhaps a beautiful passport wallet to keep it in).

Passport cards, on the other hand, are often preferable for persons who frequently drive into Canada or Mexico, or who plan to cruise from the United States Caribbean or Bermuda.

Passport cards are also suitable for persons who have a passport but do not have a driver’s license and are flying domestically, as they are Real ID-compliant and hence valid for domestic travel.

Can I Get Both a Passport Book and a Passport Card?

Both a passport book and a passport card can be carried at the same time. In fact, if you already have a passport book, the processing price for your passport card will be waived. 

If you don’t have a driver’s license, a passport card could work as a Real ID for domestic flights. Just keep in mind that passport cards cannot be used for foreign flights.

How to Get Passport Books and Passport Cards

The procedure for obtaining a passport book or a passport card is the same. You can even use the same application paperwork for both, and simply check the box next to the document you desire or pick both. 

To finish the process, first-time applicants must go to a passport office in person. Renewals can be requested by mail.

Applicants must present proof of US citizenship (originals or certified copies), a second form of acceptable ID, and a passport photo that passes tight standards during the application process. 

Passport books and cards can currently take over four months to arrive, so apply well in advance of any international travel, though there are alternatives to get your passport sooner if necessary.


Passport books and passport cards serve distinct functions. Passport books are essential for international flight travel as identification verification.

Passport cards serve this purpose, however, they can only be used for land travel into the United States from designated locations.

Travelers can apply for either document, as they both serve as proof of U.S. citizenship.

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