Do I Need A Passport Book and Card?

By Alice Ross | PASSPORT & VISA

Aug 04
do i need a passport book and card

Years ago, the US Department of State Passport Services started issuing the passport card as an alternative to the commonly used passport book. But you’re probably asking… do I need a passport book and card? What are the differences between the two? Which one should you bring on your trip? Can you just take one of them? Here are some of the most common questions being asked regarding this topic, and in this article, we are going to answer these questions…


First of all, the passport book contains many pages designated for visa stickers and stamps, while the passport card, on the other hand, is a credit card-like ID. Which one you must get completely depends on how you are going to travel and how much you are willing to pay for this travel document. To help you decide, here is the comparison of the two documents.

Differences Between Passport Books and Passport Cards

us passport book

Similar to a driver's license, a passport card is made of plastic material and something that you can easily put in your wallet. Passport books, which are more common, are bigger and have a lot of blank pages used for departure and arrival stamps and visa stickers.

The main difference between the two, however, is that passport cards cannot be used for international air travel; these documents are only acceptable when you are traveling by land and sea border crossings between the US, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. You are also not able to use a passport card on cruises from international homeports. On the other hand, passport books are able to cover all international travel – may it be by land, by air, or by sea.

There is also a big difference when it comes to price. US passport books will cost you $145, while passport cards are only $50.

Read more: How Long Is A Passport Good For?

Similarities Between Passport Books and Passport Cards

passport book and card

Although two documents have a huge difference, they also share some similarities. First of all, both passport documents have a validity of 10 years. Furthermore, both passport cards and books are also suitable for short trips that need you to show an ID as you’ll be crossing a sea or land border into a foreign country.

U.S. Passport Card Vs. Book

If you are a traveler who is on tight budgets, who’s cruise round trip from the US and not planning to leave the country via air, then it would be cost-efficient and convenient to just have a US passport card with you. A passport card also might be pretty useful for Alaska cruises, on condition that all border crossings into Canada are done via sea or land.

But if you’re not worried about the money or you’re just planning to travel more in the future internationally, then a passport book would always be a better option. On top of being required for air travel, it could give you peace of mind for times you need it. You never know when you’ll be needing to get off the ship due to an illness or injury, and arranging an unpredicted flight home is much easier when you have a passport ready.

passport card


So, do you need a passport card book and card? Well, not necessarily. You can get both, but you can just choose one, depending on what kind of travel you are planning to do. If there’s the slightest possibility that you’re going to travel by air in the next 10 years, it would be better if you simply obtain the passport book. This will allow you to travel anywhere you want outside the country via air. Just remember that it’s a little bit more expensive. But then again, with the purpose it offers, it’s definitely worth getting compared to the US passport card.

Hopefully, this article has answered your question, especially the answer to, do I need a passport book and card? So, now let us ask you a question, which one are you going to get and why? Let us know your answer in the comment below! If you have other questions regarding this topic, don’t hesitate to ask us!

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Alice Ross, a long-term traveler who left the corporate world to travel the world. I chose to live life on my own phase and live day by day while immersing myself in new experiences, new knowledge, and new people in a different walk of life I met along the way.

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