Passport Cards – Your Top Questions Answered

Passport card related queries and answers

Do you have any questions about passport cards, passport renewals, or any other travel document issue? is here to help! You can send us a private message on our contact form or post a question or comment on any of our pages. Recently, many of you have posted questions about passport cards on our pages about how to get a passport card and the difference between passport books and passport cards. Today, we’ll take a closer look at passport cards and answer your most pressing questions!

Q. What is a Passport Card?

Passport cards are a card-sized version of a US passport. A passport card serves as official identification and proof of your US citizenship. It can be used for land or sea travel to Canada, Mexico, and many Caribbean islands, but it is not valid for any international travel by air.

Q. Will my passport card have the same number as my passport book?

No, your book and card will have two completely different numbers. The US State Department uses different number formats for books and cards. Passport book numbers are 9 numerals long, and passport cards start with the letter C followed by 8 numerals. Each passport book and card has a completely unique number. The State Department never reuses them – after a number has been used once, it is never used again!

Q. Do I have to apply for a passport book and a passport card at the same time?

No, you can apply for them separately, at your convenience. You don’t need to wait for one to expire to apply for the other.

Q. I have a valid passport card, but now I want to get a passport book. How can I apply for a passport book?

You’ll be able to use your passport card to apply for a passport book using Form DS-82 and the same procedure that is used for passport renewals. You’ll submit your passport card as part of the package, instead of submitting a passport book. We recommend that you put a sticky note on your passport card that says “Do Not Cancel.” Please note that this applies only to people who currently hold only a passport card. If you have been issued a passport book in the past, you need to submit that with your request for a new passport book.

Top FAQs and answers about passport card and book

Q. Can I apply for a passport card using an expired passport book?

Yes, as long as your passport book was issued no more than 15 years ago, you can use it to apply for a passport card. The requirements and procedure will be the same as for travelers who hold a valid passport book.

Q. I lost my passport card, and need to get a new one. What do I do?

You can replace your lost passport card using the same procedure that is used for a lost passport book. If you also hold a passport book – valid or expired – you can submit that as your proof of US citizenship. However, if you submit a valid passport book, you should definitely put a sticky note on the front that says “Do Not Cancel.”

Q. My passport book was issued two years ago and has eight years validity remaining. If I apply for a passport card now, how long will it be valid?

Your new passport card will be valid for 10 years from the date that it is issued. It’s not tied to the validity of your passport book.

Q. I applied for both a passport book and a passport card. I just got my new passport book in the mail, but my passport card wasn’t in the envelope. What happened? Is it lost?

No need to worry! The State Department always ships back passport books and passport cards in separate envelopes. Typically, you’ll get your passport book first in a Priority Mail envelope, and your passport card will arrive within a week in a regular business-size envelope. If you applied for expedited service for your passport book, you might have a longer time between the receipt of your passport book and your passport card.

Q. I travel between the US and Mexico every week, and my passport book is expiring in about a year. Can I get a passport card now so I can use that for my weekly trips into Mexico when I send in my passport book for renewal?

Click here to get a Passport CardIn this scenario, it is a good idea to get a passport card – passport cards are perfect for people who frequently cross the US border by land. However, there’s no way to get around sending in the passport book for processing, which leaves you without a passport to use for your weekly travel! What we’d recommend instead is to apply for an expedited passport renewal using a passport expediting service. A good passport expediting company can process a passport book renewal in as little as 24 hours, so you could have your passport processed with minimal disruption to your normal travel schedule. You can apply for a card at the same time, just by checking the “book and card” box on the DS-82 application form. That way, you’d have a passport back in your hands very quickly, and you’ll also now have both a passport book and a passport card to allow you flexibility in your travels.

Did this article answer your questions about passport cards? We hope so! But if you have a different question, we’d love to hear it. Leave us a comment below!


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