Passport Book vs Passport Card


While there are similarities between a passport book and passport card, it is crucial that those holding either the passport book or card and individuals needing to obtain a passport for the first time know the differences. The primary differences determine where and how the holder may travel. The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs explains the purpose of each type of passport.

Passport Card

The passport card identifies the holder and is “Valid when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry,” explains the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs.

It is not possible to use the passport card for other international travel or air travel. Travelers must instead purchase a passport book.

Passport Book

The passport book allows a holder to travel to international destinations. It also permits the designated holder to travel by air to those destinations identified as land-only destinations under rules governing the passport card. For example, a person traveling to Canada by air will need to purchase a passport book. The passport book allows the designated holder to travel internationally by “air, sea, or land.”

In the past, the passport book contained 28 pages and passport holders who travel frequently could purchase additional 24-page Visa inserts. However, the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Passports & International Travel recently announced that as of January 1, 2016, “The U.S. Department of State will no longer add visa pages into U.S. passports.” Instead, all applicants outside the U.S. began receiving the new 52-page passport books as of October 2015 at no additional cost.

Applicants within the U.S. still have the option to select the 28-page or 52-page passport book. If a passport book holder uses all 52 pages, the holder must purchase a new passport book.

The differences between a Passport Book vs Card

Another difference between the passport card and passport book is the size of each document. The passport card is wallet-size while the passport book is 5”x3 1/2” when closed. Additionally, the cost of the passport card is significantly less than the passport book.

Make sure that you know which type of passport you need before purchasing your passport card or book.