Monday, January 9, 2017

Getting a U.S. Passport Card

For destinations outside the United States, in North America,  you must have a U.S. passport card, also called the pass card or border card, to travel from the United States to and from other countries. This card will take you to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas and countries of the Caribbean. You can use this card whether you travel on land or sea. It cannot be used for air travel. If you are flying, you need a traditional passport.

If you are planning a cruise to the Caribbean or Bermuda or driving to Canada or Mexico, it is cheaper and easier to get a U.S. Passport Card than it is to get a U.S. Passport. The turnover time is shorter as well. If you don't anticipate traveling overseas then this is the perfect card for you.

If you have previously had a U.S. Passport, you can choose to get a passport card as your renewal. When doing this, you will fill out the regular passport document. DS-82.

You may be able to renew by mail if:

  • The passport is undamaged
  • Was issued when you were 16 years or older
  • Is no more than 15 years old
  • Has your current name on it or you can document the name change
If any of these is not correct you must apply in person.

To renew in person you must go to a Passport Acceptance Facility or a Passport Agency. The United States government has links to all the places where you can apply. You can also apply at certain  United States Post Offices and in our area, Probate Courts.  See their website to find the one nearest you.

To apply for a U.S. passport card for the first time you will need to fill out form DS-11. You are required to prove that you are a United States citizen.

Documents that are accepted are:

  • A certified birth certificate
  • Consular report of birth abroad
  • Naturalization certificate
  • Certificate of citizenship

You also need to prove who you are.

Documents accepted are:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • A current military ID
  • A current government ID
  • Naturalization certificate
With either a renewal or a first-time application you will need to submit two passport photos. They must be identical, in color and 2 inches by 2 inches. You cannot be wearing a uniform and you should be facing the camera. No hats or dark glasses allowed.

The cost for a U.S. passport card is $55 for adults, $40 for minors. If it is a renewal it is $30.

It can take anywhere from a month to six weeks to receive your passport card. Don't wait until the last minute to apply. If you require it quicker you will need to make an appointment and pay an expedited fee at a designated passport agency. Some of the offices will require that you show proof of travel. Your passport card will be mailed to you, first class or in special cases when travel is within 14 days, you may be allowed to pick it up.

A passport card is a great option to save a little money if your plans do not require a passport.

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