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Reasons to Get the U.S. Passport Card

When we consider the documents needed to travel abroad, we usually first think of the passport book. But did you know that US citizens also have a compact alternative to the standard passport: a passport card? 

As the name suggests, the passport card is an international travel document in the form of a plastic card. It is intended for land and sea travel to neighboring countries: Canada, Mexico, and most of the Caribbean. The card does not serve the exact same functions as the passport book and has its own nuances. Some of its features can benefit its holders, some of which we will explain below.

Reason One: price

One of the more striking differences between the card and passport regarding the application is the fee. The passport book costs $130 to apply, while the card only costs $30. In both cases, you need to add another $35 of the execution fee. All in all, the card is more affordable. The price matters if you only need the international ID for short trips to neighboring countries. 

Reason Two: Convenience

The shape and size of the card also ensure convenience. The passport card is sized just like any other ID card, no bigger than a credit card. This makes it easier for you to carry everywhere — just stick it in your wallet or card holder and go around your business.

This also makes it easier for you to use it as an everyday ID document instead of, for example, a driving license.

Reason Three: safety

Just like credit cards and driving licenses, the passport card is also made of plastic, making it sturdier than paper-based passport books. This makes it safer for you to carry it everywhere, while passport books may be susceptible to rips and tears, or can be damaged by water.

As passport cards can be used for cruises to countries in its range, this water resistance may be an advantage if you go on cruises or often travel by sea within the card’s coverage. 

Top destinations you can travel with a passport card

The passport card does cover way fewer countries than the book, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t discover stunning destinations with it. Here are some of our favorites, from various categories:

Montreal, Canada

Longing for European cities, but don’t fancy the transatlantic flight? Montreal may just be what you’re looking for. The largest city of the francophone province of Quebec, the local architecture combines the old — from the times of British and French colonization — and the (relatively) new, which includes styles like brutalism. It is separated from the U.S. border by only 40 miles of road.

Exuma, The Bahamas

You’d be hard-pressed to not find a beautiful Bahaman beach, but in our opinion, Exuma is one of the most special. Called the Bahaman beach with the bluest water, the brilliant sapphire is even visible from space.

Puerto Penasco, Mexico

From here the resort liners offer a multifaceted cultural program or a carefree all-inclusive vacation. More than 40 hotels in different price categories are open in the city. At night, the city by the sea shines just as brightly as it does during the day.  

Arikok National Park, Arubas 

Combining natural beauty and ancient wonder, the Arikok National Park prides itself not only for its beautiful beaches, but also the Conchi — a natural ocean pool sheltered by craggy rock formations — and the Fontein cave adorned with ancient cave paintings. The Dos Playa beach is also a turtle nesting site, making this national park an all-inclusive for natural attractions.

How to apply for a passport card?

If we succeeded in making you want to get a passport card with the above benefits and destinations, then what’s left is on your hands — apply for it!

What’s handy about this application is that it’s the same streamlined process as any passport application. You will need to apply in person with these documents:

  • DS-11 form;
  • Evidence of US citizenship;
  • Copy of US citizenship evidence;
  • ID document;
  • Copy of ID document;
  • US passport card photo;
  • Additional documents based on special circumstances.