U.S. Passport Card or Book? Complete Passport Card Guide

American citizens can use a passport book or a passport card for international travel. .

Table of contents

Let’s learn more about the passport card option, and how to get one.

What is the passport card

In addition to the regular passport (or “passport book”)., for traveling abroad, there is the so-called passport card, which can be used to travel by land or sea to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Canada. It is an optional ID that comes in the size of a credit card.

The passport card contains the biometric data of its holder and a chip with a unique number linked to government databases.

Passport cards are a relatively new product in the United States. They were introduced in 2008 as part of the Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). After the introduction of the WHTI, U.S. citizens must obtain a passport for international travel (previously, a birth certificate was sufficient to travel to some destinations). To offer a less expensive and more portable alternative to the regular passport book, the passport card was developed

What is the difference between a passport book and a passport card?

Both of these documents are issued to U.S. citizens for travel outside the country. The passport card is more conveniently shaped (credit card size). The passport book is a standard travel document, similar to that used by citizens of other countries.

Passport card vs Book

Choosing which type of document to apply for: a passport book or passport card? Consider the pros and cons of each choice:

Both the regular passport and the passport card are valid for 10 years for adults and 5 years for a child.

Countries you can visit with a passport card

The current list of destinations open for visits with a passport card only is as follows: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean Netherlands, Cayman Islands, Canada, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Mexico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caico.

Once again, please note that you can only cross the border with a passport card by land or sea. That is, if you plan to vacation in Cancun and fly by plane, the passport card will not work: you will need a regular passport book.

How to apply for a passport card?

The passport card application process is similar to the regular passport. You will need the following documents:

You may get an American passport (both book and card) at a Passport Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency. You may apply at a U.S. consulate or embassy if you are abroad.

Passport card photo requirements

The passport card photo specifications are identical to those for a regular passport photo. Let's list the main parameters.

Here is an example:

USA passport photo

Get your passport card photo

To instantly take a photo for the US passport card, upload any of your portraits, taken in full-face, here. Visafoto will instantly edit the background, format, and image quality.

Take an image with a smartphone or camera against any background, upload it here and instantly get a professional photo for your visa, passport or ID.
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Upload photo & Continue


Source photo example that you need to take in order to make a passport or visa photo at visafoto.com


Result example: a correct visa or passport photo that you will receive

First, take a photo of yours like this one:

Passport photo original source

You will get 2 types of files:

Here they are:

Example of a USA passport photo
USA passport photo for printing

Use Visafoto to take ID photos of all sizes for all ID documents worldwide. If any questions arise, don’t hesitate to contact our support.

Last update: December 2022

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