How to apply for a U.S. passport card
For places in North America, starting in June 2009 you need to have a U.S. passport card, also called the pass card or border card, to travel from the United States to and from other countries. This card will take you to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas and countries of the Caribbean. The exception is Cuba.Travel to Cuba is restricted. You can use this card whether you travel on land or sea. It cannot be used for air travel.
Why get a passport card
If you are planning a cruise to the Caribbean or Bermuda or driving to Canada or Mexico, it is cheaper and easier to get a U.S. Passport Card than it is to get a U.S. Passport. The turnover time is shorter as well. If you don’t anticipate traveling overseas then this is the perfect card for you.
Renewal by mail
If you have previously had a U.S. Passport, you can choose to get a passport card as your renewal. When doing this, you will fill out the regular passport document. DS-82. You may be able to renew by mail if:
The passport in undamaged
Was issued when you were 16 years or older
Is no more than 15 years old
Has your current name on it or you can document the name change
If any of these is not correct you must apply in person.
Renewal in person
To renew in person you must go to a Passport Acceptance Facility or a Passport Agency. The United States government website has links to all the places where you can apply. You can also apply at certain United States Post Offices. See their websites to find the one nearest you.
To apply for a U.S. passport card for the first time you will need to fill out form DS-11.You will need to prove that you are a United States citizen. Documents that are accepted are:
A certified birth certificate
Consular report of birth abroad
Certificate of citizenship
You will also need to prove who you are. Documents accepted are:
A valid drivers license
A current military ID
A current government ID
With either a renewal or a first time application you will need to submit two passport photos. They must be identical, in color and 2 inches by 2 inches. You can not be wearing a uniform and you should be facing the camera. No hats or dark glasses allowed.
The cost for a U.S. passport card is $45 for adults, $35 for minors. If it is a renewal it is $20.
Receiving your card
It can take anywhere from a month to six weeks to receive your passport card. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply. If you require it quicker you will need to make an appointment at a Regional Passport Office. Your passport card will be mailed to you, first class mail.
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