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U.S. Passport Card

U.S. Passport CardPurpose
The new wallet-size U.S. Passport Card is a travel document that can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. Note that it cannot be used for international air travel. The passport card is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book.
 
Validity and Cost
The U.S. Passport Card has the same period of validity as the U.S. Passport Book: 10 years for an adult and 5 years for minors under age 16. The card costs $45 for a first-time adult passport applicant and $35 for all minor applicants under age 16, regardless of whether they are previous passport book or card holders. Adults who already have a fully valid passport book may apply for the card as a passport renewal by mail for a cost of only $20.

How to Apply
U.S. citizens, whether or not they have a passport book, may apply for a passport card. Note that passport cards cannot be shipped using overnight delivery. All passport cards will be returned using First Class Mail.

If you currently have or previously had a U.S. passport book, you might be able to apply for a passport card by mail. Note that in this scenario you will use a passport renewal form (DS-82) even if you're applying for your first passport card.

If you have never had a passport book, or you do not meet the requirements to apply by mail using Form DS-82, you may apply for a passport card in person using Form DS-11.

Security
To increase speed, efficiency, and security at U.S. land and sea border crossings, the passport card contains a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. This chip points to a stored record in secure government databases. There is no personal information written to the RFID chip itself.

With RFID technology, Customs and Border Protection inspectors will be able to access photographs and other biographical information stored in secure government databases as the traveler approaches an inspection station.

The passport card uses state-of-the-art security features to prevent against the possibility of counterfeiting and forgery. In addition, a protective, RFID-blocking sleeve is provided with each passport card to protect against unauthorized reading or tracking of the card when it is not in use.

History
We began production of the U.S. Passport Card on July 14, 2008, and to date have issued over 1 million cards. Processing times are similar to those of a passport book.


U.S. Passport Card Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated May 2009

What is the passport card?
The passport card is the wallet-size travel document that can only be used to re-enter the United States at land border-crossings or sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The card provides a less expensive, smaller, and more convenient alternative to the passport book for those who travel frequently to these destinations by land or by sea.

Why can’t I use the passport card to fly to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda?
The passport card is designed for the specific needs of the northern and southern border resident communities and is not a globally interoperable travel document as is the traditional passport book. While the passport card has limited use, the passport book will remain the premier internationally accepted travel document.

Didn’t Congress just pass a law delaying passport requirements for land border crossings and sea travel until June 2009?
Questions about the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) must be referred to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) , which is the federal agency charged with deciding and implementing the documentary requirements. Our role in WHTI is to produce passport books and passport cards for international travel.  For more information on acceptable travel documents and WHTI, see the Department of Homeland Security's www.GetYouHome.gov 

Does the passport card contain an electronic chip?
To facilitate the frequent travel of Americans living in border communities, and to meet the Department of Homeland Security’s operational needs along the land borders, the passport card has a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. With this technology, Customs and Border Protection inspectors are able to access photographs and other biographical information stored in secure government databases before the traveler reaches the inspection station.

Won’t this chip violate Americans’ privacy?
There is no personal information written on the electronic chip itself. The only information contained on the chip is a unique number which points to a stored record contained in secure government databases.

How secure is the card?
The Department uses laser engraving and includes state-of-the-art security features to mitigate against the possibility of counterfeiting and forgery. In addition, to mitigate any possibility that the card could be tracked, it is issued with a protective sleeve that prevents the card from being read when not in use.
We have taken every care to ensure that the passport card is as secure as current technology permits. There is no personal information written to the RFID chip.

What is RFID Technology?
Radio Frequency Identification technology (RFID) has been used successfully along our land borders with Canada and Mexico since 1995 in the Department of Homeland Security’s trusted traveler programs, such as NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST. U.S. border officials are able to expedite legitimate cross-border travel and trade of those trusted travelers who carry membership cards with vicinity read RFID chips that link to government databases. Membership in these programs currently exceeds 400,000.

RFID technology has been commercially available in one form or another since the 1970s. It can be found in car keys, highway toll tags, bank cards and security access cards. The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, who staff the ports-of-entry, anticipate that the speed of vicinity RFID will allow CBP officers, in advance of the traveler’s arrival at the inspection booth, to quickly access information on the traveler from secure government databases, and allow for automated terrorist watch list checks without impeding traffic flow. In addition, they foresee that multiple cards can be read at a distance and simultaneously, allowing an entire car of people to be processed at once.

The RFID technology embedded in documents does not include any personally identifying information; only a unique number that can be associated with a record stored in a secure government database will be transmitted.

When did the passport card become available? 
We began production of the U.S. Passport Card on July 14, 2008.  As of May 2009, over 1,000,000 Passport Cards have been issued to U.S. citizens.

Where do I apply for a passport card?
First time applicants can apply at any one of our 9,400+ Passport Application Acceptance Facilities across the country. Locate an acceptance facility near you and submit your application today!

Can I apply for the passport card and passport book at the same time using the same application?
Yes.

What documents will I need in order to apply for a passport card?
The passport card is a fully valid passport that attests to the U.S. citizenship and identity of the bearer. As such, the passport card is adjudicated to the exact standards as the passport book. Applicants must provide documents which attest to their U.S. citizenship and identity such as birth and naturalization certificates.

For specific instruction on how to apply for your U.S. Passport card, see  How to Apply for the First Time and Special Requirements for Minors Under Age 16 .

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are a previous passport book holder and you are eligible to submit Form DS-82 , you may apply for a passport card as a Renewal by Mail - even if it is your first passport card!

How much will the passport card cost?
For first time applicants, the passport card will cost $45 for adults and $35 for minors under age 16. Adults with fully-valid passports issued within the last fifteen years who are eligible to submit  Form DS-82 by mail, will pay only $20 for a passport card.

Why is there an execution fee for the passport book and passport card?
First time applicants, minors, and those seeking to replace a lost or stolen passport must appear in person before a Passport Application Acceptance Agent (a person authorized by the Secretary of State to give oaths to verify passport applications). In order to offer American citizens convenient locations to apply for a passport, the Department of State authorizes Passport Acceptance Agents to accept passport applications on its behalf. The execution fee is used to reimburse the Acceptance Facility for the cost of the service, which provides an incentive for them to act on behalf of the Department of State. Effective February 1, 2008, the execution fee per application is $25.00. Applicants applying for both the passport book and card simultaneously pay only one execution fee.

How did the Department of State decide on the cost of the passport card?
Our fees reflect the cost of providing passport services to the American public. Per regulation, the Department of State employs an independent consultant to conduct periodic and regular cost of service studies to determine the cost of providing consular services. The cost of service study indicated that the Department could issue a passport card at $20 for an adult and $10 for a child. With the execution fee of $25, the total cost for an adult is $45.00, or 37.5 cents per month over a ten year period.

How long will it take to receive a passport card?
The processing and issuance time for the passport card is the same as for the passport book. See Application Processing Times for the most up-to-date processing information.

If an applicant already has a fully-valid adult passport book issued within the last fifteen years, what form should be used to apply for a passport card?
The applicant can submit an application for the passport card by mail using Form DS-82 (if eligible) or in person using Form DS-11.

If the applicant chooses to apply by mail using Form DS-82, he/she should follow the specific instruction provided at How To Renew Your U.S. Passport .  This form requires the applicant to submit his/her previous passport book/card with the application.

If the applicant chooses to apply in person using Form DS-11, he/she should follow the specific instruction provided at How to Apply for the First Time (In Person) . This may be preferable to the applicant if he/she does not want to submit his/her current passport book/card with the application due to frequent international travel.

How many photos are required when applying for the passport card?
Two photos are required (same as for a passport book).

How many photos are required when applying for both the passport book and passport card on the same application?

Two photos are required.

Can the passport card be used to apply for the passport book?
Yes.

More information can be found at http://travel.state.gov/
 
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