What do you know about passports?
I confess: I didn’t have a passport until early 2007. I’d already been out of the country on a trip to Vancouver but my little road trip didn’t require a passport. That was before all the post-9/11 rules had all kicked in. As of 2007, you needed your passport to pretty much travel anywhere (or at least to be welcomed back without a huge hassle). The catch is that you don’t necessarily need the usual passport book for all your trips. So what do you need?
Enter the Passport Card. Per the US Government:
The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.
So how do you know which passport is right for you?
The Passport Book is the typical passport you’ve seen. You can use it when traveling via land, sea, or air from all points of entry. It typically costs $110 with an additional $25 fee and can take awhile to arrive (mine took 4 months!), though right now it’s between 4-6 weeks.
The Passport Card looks like a driver’s license and can only be used for land and sea travel between the locations listed in the italics above. It can also be used during cruises if your ship departs from and returns to the same United States port. The cost runs $30 with an additional $25 fee and takes between 4-6 weeks to arrive.
So if you want to fly to Jamaica, you’ll need a passport book. If your cruise ship departs from Florida but stops in Jamaica before returning to Florida, you’ll only need a passport card. If you’re taking a trans-Atlantic cruise from Florida to England, you’ll need a passport book. Both passports require the same documents and last the same length of time, 10 years. If you think you’ll only be cruising in those 10 years, consider a passport card. If you are planning multiple international trips, consider spending the money on the passport book rather than paying for both a card and a book.
Confused? Any questions? Check the State Department’s comparison sheet or leave your question in the comments.