This summer, my kids are traveling on their first international adventure. Neither of my kids have traveled internationally before, so we’ve never needed to get a passport for them. Right now, I’m in the midst of getting photos and applying so we’ll have the passports ready to go before we leave. Since we are only going to Canada (by sea) we do have the option of getting a US Passport Card instead of a regular passport. So, what should you choose when you are ready to get a passport – a US Passport, or a US Passport Card?
Do You Need a US Passport Book or US Passport Card?
If you aren’t familiar with the US Passport Card, it’s a card, similar in size to a driver’s license. A US Passport card can be used a land borders (if you are driving) or ports-of-entry by sea from Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. So, for instance, it can’t be used at all if you are flying. The card is significantly less money than a passport, and is valid for the same length of time. There’s also an option to get both the US Passport Card or the US Passport Card.
For most travelers, it probably makes sense to get the full US Passport book. Although there is a price difference, you never know when you’ll need it. Even if you plan to drive to Mexico/Canada, or cruise to the Caribbean, what if an emergency occurs and you need to fly out quickly? You’ll need that passport to get back into the US. Plus, ten years is a long time, and that’s how long a passport is valid for an adult. Even if you don’t have plans to travel internationally by plane, you may find yourself needing a US Passport at some point.
When I evaluated my own personal options for myself, I chose to get both the US Passport and the US Passport Card. I don’t always travel with my passport, but I love having the US Passport Card in addition to my driver’s license. It’s a great backup to have just in case I misplace my driver’s license during my trip (something I’m always paranoid about doing).
Regardless what you choose, make sure you make a photocopy or scan of it and store it in a separate location when you travel – just in case you lose your wallet or purse.
Learn more on the State Department website.