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What's the difference between a passport book and a passport card?

Question: What's the difference between a passport book and a passport card? Do I need both? My passport was issued to me when I was 17 years old and now 10 years later I believe I am eligible to renew it. Do I need to pay for a passport book and card? I don't know even know what each one means.


Answer: A passport book and a passport card serve the same purpose of attesting to your U.S. citizenship and identity. All American citizens are required to present a valid passport to exit and re-enter the United States.

Here is a table showing the principal differences between a passport book and a passport card.

List of differences between a passport book and a passport card.

While the passport card is more convenient due to its size, it is far more restricted in use than the passport book. A passport book is valid for all types of travel (land, sea or air) to any destination. You can apply for both the book and card with the same application but you do not need both.

As long as your passport is not significantly damaged, you should be able to apply for a renewal by mail.

Applications are processed in 4-6 weeks. You can request expedited service to get it done in 2-3 weeks. To get a passport more quickly, you need to make an appointment at a regional agency. All agencies issue passport books but not all of them issue passport cards.

Return to Passport Card FAQ.

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