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US Passports Books and Cards

Get the 411 on Passports. Learn the differences between US Passport books vs. card. Passport Renewal Tips.

If your current passport is expired or you’ve never applied for one, did you know that as a U.S. resident you now have two options for passports when traveling? There’s the standard passport book, that you’re most likely familiar with already, or the newer passport card. The biggest factor of whether you’d benefit from a passport card is where you plan to travel, how often and price.

  1. Where can you travel with a passport card? Passport cards are valid for crossing land and sea border crossings between U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and Caribbean only. U.S. passport cards are not valid for international travel air travel.
  2. How are passport cards different than books? The format of the U.S. passport card is similar to a driver’s license; plastic and fits in a wallet. Passport books create a nice record of your travels. They’re bigger and filled blank pages used for visas and stamp when you enter and exit the countries you visit.
  3. How much can I save with a passport card? Passport cards are far more economical. So if they suite your needs, then it’s definitely worth considering. US Passport cards are $55 for adults and $40 for children vs. $135 for adult passport books and $105 for minors. When it’s time to renew, passport cards continue to be the more economical choice. Renewal cost for cards are $30 vs. $110 for passport books.

But if you have the money to spare or anticipate traveling more frequently (and internationally), a passport book is always the best choice. In addition to being mandatory for air travel, it can offer peace of mind for emergencies. If you decide you’re traditional passport book is still the best option for you, here’s some quick steps to renew.

  1. The best time to renew? September, October, November, or December. This is the State Department’s least busy time of year, so your application should be processed quicker during these months.
  2. Passport processing should take about 4-6 weeks. Need it quicker? For a fee, you can purchase expedited service to receive your passport in three weeks.
  3. Almost all countries require that passports held by leisure visitors be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival, so be aware of your passport’s expiration date even if it’s half a year in advance of your vacation.
  4. If you travel a lot and are running out of pages, you may need to renew.
  5. You don’t have to renew in person! You can conveniently renew your passport by mail if you meet certain requirements.
  6. You can renew your passport at any time, but it is recommended you renew it within nine months of the expiration date.

Tip: When traveling, keep your passport card or book in your vacation rental, either in a safe or other secure locations, and simply carry a photocopy of it, in case an emergency arises.

If you need additional information on the application or renewal for US Passport books or cards, visit Travel.State.Gov. Are you ready to start planning your next getaway? Let us inspire you. Visit the Trip Planning Hub, where the TripBeat team has highlighted select destinations, vacation types and a few vacation tips to help you along. Other option, is to check out our vacation deals page.

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US Passports Books and CardsUS Passports Books and CardsUS Passports Books and Cards