Getting a U.S. Pasport Card

Steven & I are are getting ready for a trip to Arizona. In preparation for a visit to Los Algodones, Mexico we applied for U.S. Passport cards.

The acquisition of a passport card is not as difficult as one might imagine. Since July of 2008 these handy, credit card sized ‘licenses’ to get back into our native country have been available to new would-be U.S. border crossers as well as to previous passport book holders for their renewals.

Here’s a quick, step by step look at the process:

• First google passport, then choose the first website for information and application forms.
• Fill out and print, or print and fill out, the application form. Either way works.
• Acquire an original birth certificate if you haven’t got one. Your birth county and/or state can provide one of these for a fee plus postage and handling if it is not local. You will get it back with your passport card.
• Get two identical photos. They are picky about this… head/face size needs to be specific and eyes need to be visible. If you choose not to have it professionally done be sure to review all the specifications for quality photos on the website.
• Take the form, birth certificate, photographs, your driver’s license… oh, and your checkbook … to your county clerk’s office or a post office to be processed.
• Be patient. Ours took just under three weeks. Total cost in January 2009 was $164.64 for both of them. Broken down (It could vary some in your neck of the woods.): 4 Photos $25.64, Local Birth Certificate $14.00, Distant Birth Certificate $35.00, 2 U.S.A. Submitting applications at county clerks office $50.00, fee for Passport Cards $40.00 …Border crossing convenience … PRICELESS.

Passport Cards are good for crossing land borders or arriving through ports of entry by ship. They cannot be used for arrivals by air.

To meet DHS’s operational needs at land borders, the passport card contains a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. The information on the chip points to a stored record in secure government databases. There is no personal information written to the RFID chip itself.
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3 Responses to "Getting a U.S. Pasport Card"

  1. So what is the difference of the use of the two. I have had the book for years, but would take the card if accepted as easily as the book.
    Planning a trip to Europe, will the card work as well.

    Graet Cookin’
    Michael R. Parr CEC

  2. Michael,

    It’s our understanding that the Passport Cards are good for crossing land borders or arriving through ports of entry by ship. They cannot be used for arrivals by air. So if you’re traveling by air then you’ll need your Passport Book.

    Don’t know why the card won’t work for everything.

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