This month, we’re partnering with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs to give you the inside scoop on how your passport can be more than just a book with pages to be stamped. Here are three things you should know to get the most out of your passport and your international travel experience.
Save Money on Certain Travel With a U.S. Passport Card
The passport card is a wallet-size travel document that can only be used to re-enter the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The card is a smaller, more convenient, and less expensive alternative to the passport book for those who travel frequently to these destinations. You can’t use a U.S. passport card to return from these international destinations by air; however, you CAN use it to board domestic flights.
The cost for first-time applicants is $55 for adults and $40 for children under the age of 16. The renewal cost is $30. The passport card is wallet-sized, so you can use it as your go-to government-issued ID.
Make Your Passport Card Your Real ID
A U.S. passport card could also save you hassle early next year when some state driver’s licenses will not be accepted as a valid form of ID at the airport. Starting January 22, 2018, passengers who have driver’s licenses issued by a state that is not compliant with REAL ID and has not been granted an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel. Luckily, both the passport card and passport book are REAL ID compliant, so you’ll avoid any issues at the gate in 2018.
Renew Early So You Can Travel With Ease
More than two dozen countries will not allow you to enter if your passport expires within the next six months. That means you could show up at the airport with your plane ticket in hand to find out you can’t board your plane. If you land at the your destination, you may not be allowed into the country.
Just to be safe, we encourage you to renew your passport nine months before it expires. Since adult passports (16 and older) are valid for ten years and children passports (15 and younger) are valid for five, there is no reason to wait to renew your passport!