Passport Card FAQ

This form of Real ID is a wallet size card that offers border-crossing access to countries like Mexico and Canada with access to sea ports to and from The Caribbean and Bermuda. This card is less expensive than a traditional passport book but it DOES NOT ALLOW for foreign air travel. The passport book and passport card are both U.S. passports. If issued for the full validity, they are both proof of your U.S. citizenship and identity.

The most important difference between U.S. passport books and passport cards is that passport cards are not valid for international air travel; they’re only acceptable for land and sea border crossings between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. They both have a validity of 10 years for 16 years or older and 5 years for children under 16. Passport cards typically cost less than passport books and are wallet size cards

Like passport books, adult passport cards remain valid for 10 years from the date of issue. The date your passport card was issued is printed on the front of the card along with the expiration date, making it easy to check how much validity is left.

Children’s passport cards are only valid for five years. Again, this is the same validity period applied to the traditional passport book.

The card does use RFID technology. It is safe to use because there is no data on the chip. This chip has a unique id number that can only be read when it is being scanned by an authorized chip reader and has no identifiable information such as name, age, sex, or race. The number on the card is stored in a secure government database.

The passport card and the passport book are two different documents. They provide you with a form of Real ID but the passport book gives you more access to international travel. The number in your passport book is your passport number. The passport card (US has an optional card for ground travel between Mexico and Canada) is a different number than your passport number. When you’re traveling, if asked for your passport number, use the one in your passport book.

Even if your passport book is expiring, your passport card will still be valid for 10 years. If you want to renew both a valid passport book and passport card, you must submit both documents. Please note that the passport card does not allow for international air travel.

The Real ID law was passed by Congress several years ago to set federal standards for identification documents. When the law is fully implemented, you will need to have a Real ID-compliant identification document to enter government buildings like courthouses or to pass through TSA security at the airport, even for domestic flights. Depending on where and when it was issued, your driver’s license may not be Real ID certified, so a passport card is a convenient, reliable form of Real ID that you can easily carry in your wallet.

For children too young to be issued driver’s licenses, the passport card is an excellent form of card-sized official identification. Families who travel frequently find them particularly useful – they report that they can pass through airport security much more quickly than families who do not have identification for their children.

Children’s passport cards are only valid for five years, the same time period as a children’s passport book.

You will need to report the loss of your passport card by calling 877-487-2778 or by filling out the lost passport report form DS-64 and mailing it to the address on the form. If you have also lost your passport book, please see our Lost Passport or Stolen Passport pages for details on how to replace your passport.


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