There were over 2 million passport cards issued in the US in 2018.
Every year, millions of Americans travel abroad to experience different cultures or for many other reasons.
If you are international bound, chances are that you might need a passport card. In this article, we shall see what exactly these cards are and how you can obtain one.
What Are Passport Cards?
These are identification documents that are just about the size of a credit card. Similar to your id, they also have your photograph and your personal information like in a passport.
These cards also come with an inbuilt radio frequency identification chip which links it to records in the government database. However, they do not contain your personal data.
How Do they Differ With Passports?
Both documents can be considered to be both identification and travel documents. However, they vary because of the number of travel destinations one can access as well as travel modes one can use.
Passport holders can travel across the globe to any country provided they have a valid visa or meet the entry requirement.
On the other hand, passport cards enable the holder to travel between the US, Canada, Bermuda, Mexico or the Caribbean.
They were designed to facilitate easy travel for people who frequent those routes. As a holder, you will only be allowed to travel by land or sea. You can only use them for air travel when traveling within the states.
How Much Does a Passport Card Cost?
For first time applications, the charges are $65 for adults and $50 for children below the age of 16. These cards will be valid for ten and five years for adults and children respectively. All renewals come at a charge of $30.
This is relatively cheap in comparison to passport books which cost $145 for new applications and $ 110 for renewals.
How Do You Apply for One?
If you are applying for the first time and you are not a passport holder, your application must be done in person.
Visit any passport application center, such as a post office or courthouse. You will then be required to submit a passport application form, a passport photo, proof of US citizenship along with the required fee.
Depending on your application center, you may need to book an appointment for your application. Contact your preferred center and enquire before going there.
When applying, you will have to leave the identification documents you use to prove your citizenship to the passport official. These will be sent to you by mail after your passport has been issued.
Some post offices do not offer passport photo services. You may have to take them beforehand.
Do not wear glasses when taking the passport photo. Any hats or head coverings you wear for the photo must be accompanied by a statement indicating the reasons. A doctor must sign it if the reason is medical.
It is important to note that some issues such as felony or probation can complicate your application process.
In such instances, it is important that you consult an attorney. The law office of Richard Hanus deals with immigration issues can advise you on the best way forward.
How to Track Your Card Application Status
Tracking the status of your application is easy. The state department has an online passport application tracking system. All you will need to do is provide your last name, last four digits of your SSN and birth date.
Are you planning to travel anytime soon? Start your passport card application immediately. Applications take six to eight weeks plus mailing time.