A passport is an essential item that you cannot afford to leave behind when going on an international trip. All U.S citizens are encouraged to carry passports when sailing out of foreign ports. Citizens can be issued with two types of passports: a traditional passport book, and a passport card.

The traditional passport book has a lot of pages for arrival and departure stamps, as well as visas. The passport card, on the other hand, is a plastic, credit-card-sized ID card which can easily fit into your wallet. When choosing between the two, you should consider your budget, where you plan on sailing, and how frequently you travel.

Differences between passport books and passport cards

Both passport books and passport cards allow you to travel across borders, but they differ in the following ways:

Usage

Passport books can be used for international travel by land, sea, or air. They are also acceptable for domestic travel. Passport cards, on the other hand, cannot be used for international travel. You can only use passport cards for domestic air travel, land and sea border crossings, and re-entry into the U.S from Bermuda, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean.

Size

Passport books are bigger than passport cards. They have many pages for visas and arrival and departure stamps. When closed, the size of a passport book is 5 inches by 3.5 inches. Passport cards are wallet size; therefore, they reduce bulk while traveling.

Price

There is also a difference in price between passport books and passport cards. According to the U.S Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs website, the cost of a passport book is $145 for adults and $115 for minors. The price of renewal by mail is $110. Passport cards are much cheaper at $65 for adults, $50 for minors, and $30 for renewal by mail. Therefore, if you are pressed for money and you want to travel domestically, you can opt for a passport card.

First-time applicants are expected to pay an acceptance fee. You can apply for your passport book or card online, and remember to hide your identity from snooping eyes by paying for VPN with credit card.

Which one do you need: a passport book or passport card?

Both passport books and passport cards are valid for 10 years and are acceptable for domestic travel and on shore excursions. If you are operating on a tight budget and you do not plan to leave the country by air, you can get a passport card. A passport book is always the best choice if you plan on traveling internationally. It is worth noting that if you are forced to disembark on foreign soil and fly home unexpectedly, you will experience lots of delays getting back with a passport card.