Do You Need A Passport Or A Passport Card?

Do you know the difference between a passport and a passport card?  If you’re a U.S. citizen traveling to Europe or abroad, you’ll need a passport.  However, if you’re going on a Caribbean cruise departing from the U.S, a passport card may suffice.

Why a Passport Card?

Prior to 2007, U.S. citizens could reenter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean with minimal proof of citizenship, such as a valid driver’s license.  With the need for heightened security, Congress passed the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Act in 2004.  WHTI, which was fully implemented in June, 2009, required that all U.S.  citizens, and those  of Canada and Bermuda, reentering the U.S. have a valid passport.  However, to ease the burden for those U.S.  citizens only traveling to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean, the passport card was created.

What’s the Difference?

First produced in 2008, the Passport Card allows the holder to enter the United States only by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. 

 The Passport Card has several restrictions:

  • It may not be accepted for entry or departure by the particular country you plan to visit.   The U.S. State Department recommends that you check with your cruise line and destination for foreign entry requirements. 
  • It cannot be used for more extensive international travel.

The booklet-style Passport, on the other hand, allows the owner to travel to any country in the world, unless otherwise cited.  A. U.S. passport is valid for a ten-year period, with a first-time adult passport for those age 16 or older costing $135, and $110 for renewal.

For families, each child, including infants and newborns, must have his/her own passport, which is renewable every five years.  A first-time passport costs $105 per minor, and $80 for renewal. An adult Passport Card looks similar to a driver’s license, and is valid for ten years.  Cost for a first-time card is $55, and $30 to renew.  Passport cards for minors cos.t $40 first time or renewal, and must be renewed every five years. 

U.S. citizens may choose to hold both a passport and passport card. For more information, and to apply for a U.S. passport visit


US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA)
UStiA is a national association of insurance carriers, third-party administrators, insurance agencies and related businesses involved in the development, administration and marketing of travel insurance and travel assistance products.