Did you know the U.S. Department of State offers two kinds of passports for Americans? In addition to the traditional passport book most folks are familiar with, the agency also offers passport cards for land and sea entry to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. If you need to obtain an international travel document for your cruise, the passport card offers some important advantages.
The passport card was designed for everyday use by Americans crossing the U.S. border with Mexico and Canada by some form of transportation other than international air travel. As such, it’s smaller and more compact than a passport book. It’s the same standard size as a driver’s license and credit/debit cards, so it fits in a wallet or pocket easily. There’s a feeling of security that comes with knowing the passport card is tucked snugly into your wallet, which you’ll be keeping a close eye on anyway.
Getting a passport is one of those expenses that, while not exactly hidden, isn’t always first on the list of things that come up when planning to take a cruise. The fee for a single booklet isn’t out of this world for one adult. But if you need to secure travel documents for a family of five, it adds up quickly! The passport card comes at a significant cost savings. While the booklet costs $145 for adults, the card costs only $65. Child applicant fees are $115 and $50, respectively. Both types of documents are valid for a period of ten years, and both can be renewed by mail.
Passport Card Meets Federal Requirements for Domestic Air Travel
Even though the passport card is not valid for international air travel, it does meet the new, more stringent domestic air travel ID requirements of the REAL ID legislation passed by Congress several years ago. Using a single ID to board your flight and your cruise, and then returning to the U.S. via a sea port of entry can streamline the travel documents you need to carry. Depending on your state, applying for a passport card may alleviate the need to get an enhanced driver’s license that’s REAL ID-compliant.
For travelers who need to secure a passport from the U.S. Department of State, the card offers several advantages over the book. It’s easy and convenient to carry, and it’s affordable. The passport card is good for land and sea travel, and is also an acceptable form of ID for air travel within the U.S.