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January 21, 2011 8:35 AM   Subscribe

It's time to renew my US passport book; is there any reason to get the passport card as well? I don't live close enough to the Mexican or Canadian border to make spontaneous day trips where I might not be carrying my passport.
posted by catlet to Law & Government (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The passport card is only for going to limited destinations:
The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.
If you are planning on travelling to places other than those listed above, only get a passport book.
posted by jillithd at 8:38 AM on January 21, 2011

There's no point if you're getting a passport.
posted by amro at 8:40 AM on January 21, 2011

posted by notme at 8:43 AM on January 21, 2011

Response by poster: jillithd - that is what's confusing. You cannot get the passport card ONLY, which means that anyone holding the card is already in possession of a book. Except for "I cross the border in my car or yacht a few times a week and I'm running out of pages for stamps," I can't come up with a reason why someone would pony up the extra $30 for the card.
posted by catlet at 8:44 AM on January 21, 2011

I have one. It's proof of age, it looks knifty, and I carry it around to prove citizenship when I'm in Arizona.
posted by yeolcoatl at 8:48 AM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

A decent reason that some of the consultants for my company use for the card is that they have to give up their passports for visas, but travel to Mexico and Canada often, so the card helps with that while their passports are out of their hands.
posted by xingcat at 8:49 AM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

I got it because my parents live near the Mexican border, and before shit started getting weird down there, I used to go across pretty regularly. Since then, though, I haven't used it very much.

It's main use right now is confusing liquor store employees when I can't find my drivers license. Is that worth $30, though?
posted by SNWidget at 8:50 AM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Huh? I just filled out a DS-11 or whatever the passport renewal form is and I had the option to just get a new passport card. Do they balk if you try to send in the application like this? (I haven't mailed it in because I need to get mug shots)

I think the supposed benefit to the card is 1. you can carry it in your wallet (great for those "papers, please" moments if you're accosted for Driving While Brown or something), and 2. if you don't have a passport and want to go on a cruise to mexico on the cheap and don't plan to go to europe, you can just pay the $30 for the card.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:25 AM on January 21, 2011

For confusing liquor store employees and TSA staff, I go with my MA gun permit. I feel particularly warm and fuzzy and secure when the TSA guy says "what is that, anyways" *after* he's looked at it and waved me through.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:27 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OK, just got off phone with the guy at the local passport facility. rmd1023, you're correct; it is possible to apply ONLY for the card on the DS-11 (although guy kept saying "but why would you do that?"). For people applying in person, the processing fee should be the same whether you're getting one type of passport or two.

Visas and proof of citizenship in domestic travel are good reasons that I had not considered, and I may go ahead and get the card. Thanks, all!
posted by catlet at 9:49 AM on January 21, 2011

I have one. I keep it in my wallet, behind my drivers license. It's handy because I work in environments where I often have to show multiple forms of photo ID to get in/around buildings, and I don't always have my passport on hand.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:53 AM on January 21, 2011

I just got one along with my passport. Basically, for me it's down to size. Sometimes you need to show two forms of ID, and carrying a large bulky passport book is just not convenient. The card sits in my wallet and I can whip it out when needed.
posted by VikingSword at 10:42 AM on January 21, 2011

It qualifies as a column A id, so you can use it instead of the driver's license and social security card combo when you fill out paperwork for a new job.

There is no address. I don't want people to know where I live with just a quick swipe or scan, like with my driver's license.

They now come with Faraday (sp?) cages, but I haven't tested mine out.
posted by Monday at 11:16 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

yeolcoatl wrote: "I have one. It's proof of age, it looks knifty, and I carry it around to prove citizenship when I'm in Arizona."

Also handy for providing photo ID without any real identifying information they can use to nosy clerks. When I have my passport on me (which is admittedly rare), I always use it for ID instead of my driver's license.
posted by wierdo at 11:51 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, you'd have to look into this a little further, but I know of people who carry it rather than an actual passport when traveling in other countries that require you to carry ID at all times. You're not quite so SOL if you lose the card
posted by raccoon409 at 12:10 PM on January 22, 2011

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