Have you ever wished your passport could fit inside your wallet? It can! You can get a US passport card, whether or not you currently hold a passport book. A passport card is the same size as a driver’s license, and can be used to travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean by land or sea. It can also be used inside the United States as an official identification for any purpose, as well as a proof of US citizenship. They are particularly useful as identification for children who are too young to get a driver’s license.
The main difference between a passport card and a passport book – other than the physical size and format – is that a passport card can not be used for any international travel by air. Any time you board an international flight, you will need a valid US passport book.
Passport cards, like passport books, are valid for 10 years from the date of issue (or 5 years, for children age 15 and younger). If you already hold a passport book, your passport card will be issued with a different number. You do not need a valid passport book in order to apply for a passport card, and you can apply for either a passport card only, or you can apply for a passport book and a passport card at the same time.
You’ll find all the details you’ll need to apply for a passport card in our guide, including the requirements for a passport card and how to get a passport card fast.
Passport Card – Eligibility
All US citizens are eligible to obtain a passport card. It does not matter if you currently have a valid passport book or not. You can get a passport card even if you have never been issued a passport before.
Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for a Passport Card
Gather all required documents
The documents you will need will vary depending on whether you currently hold a valid passport book. You can apply in any one of the following scenarios:
- Applying for a passport card alone when you already have a valid passport book
- Applying for a passport card alone when you have never held a US passport
- Getting a passport card at the same time you are applying for a new passport book (either for an adult or a minor under age 16)
- Getting a passport card at the same time you are applying for a renewal of your passport book (adults whose passport was issued after they turned 16)
Requirements for Passport Card – Applicants who hold a valid Passport Book
- Your current US passport – This must be the actual book, not a photocopy
- Passport Application Form (DS-82), completed offline or filled out online at https://pptform.state.gov/, printed and signed. You will need to select on this application whether you are applying for just a passport card or for both a passport card and a passport book renewal.
- One passport photo
- Photocopy of your driver’s license or other state-issued ID (front and back)
- Passport card fee – A check for $30 ($90 if you need expedited service) made payable to “US Department of State.”
- Flight itinerary or other proof of travel plans (only required if you need expedited service for a passport card.)
Once you have collected these items, you can proceed to Step Two.
Requirements for Passport Card – Applicants who have not been issued a US Passport (or Minors under age 16)
- Proof of US Citizenship (birth certificate)
- New Passport Application Form (DS-11), completed offline or filled out online at https://pptform.state.gov/. You will need to specify on the application whether you are applying only for the passport card or for both a passport book and a passport card.
- One passport photo
- Photocopy of your driver’s license or other state-issued ID (front and back). Minors under age 16 will need to submit copies of both parents’ passports or driver’s licenses.
- Flight itinerary or other proof of travel plans (only required if you need expedited service for the passport card.)
- Passport card fee – you will need two checks, one for $25 for the Passport Acceptance Agent fee and one made payable to “US Department of State” for $30 ($15 for applicants under age 16.) Add $60 to the US Department of State check if you need expedited service for your passport card.
You will need to appear in person at a Passport Acceptance Agent in order to have your documents reviewed and sealed into an official envelope before you proceed to Step Two. Children under age 16 will need to appear at the Passport Acceptance Agent with both of their parents. (See our Passport for Minors page for more details.) Passport Acceptance Agents are usually found at major post offices or at Clerk of the Court offices. You can find a convenient location at //passportinfo.com/passport-offices/.
Have your passport application processed in one of three ways:
- By Mail – Your passport card application can be sent in by mail to be processed at the National Passport Center.
- At a Passport Agency – If you need expedited service for your passport card, you can visit a US Passport Agency in person.
- By a Passport Expediting Company – If you really need to get your passport card fast, you can send your application to a reputable passport expediting company for service in as little as 24 hours.
How to Get a Passport Card Fast
Applying for a passport card by mail will take up to 8 weeks. If you are also applying for a renewal of your passport book and you opt for expedited service by mail, your passport book will arrive in 2-3 weeks, but your passport card may arrive in a separate envelope several weeks later. Passport cards requested by mail are always shipped back to you via First Class Mail (regular mail).
If you need your passport card in a hurry, the best way to do it is to use the services of a passport expediting company. These companies can get you a passport card in as little as 24 hours.
You can request expedited service by appearing in person at a Passport Agency, but not all Passport Agencies make passport cards on site. You may still need to wait 2 or more weeks for your passport card to be sent to you by mail. There are 26 Passport Agencies across the US, and you must call the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 to make an appointment. Many Passport Agencies will not allow you to appear in person unless you have proof of very urgent travel.