U.S. Passport Book vs. U.S. Passport Card
Print this article
Font Size
The U.S. Passport Card
View ArticleView Article Comments
Congress passed the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Congress passed the WHTI in an effort to better secure America’s borders. Prior to the WHTI, U.S. citizens could travel between Canada and Mexico without a U.S. passport. However, as of June 1, 2009, the WHTI requires every U.S. citizen traveling to any foreign country to present a U.S. Passport Book, U.S. Passport Card, or a WHTI-compliant document.

The U.S. State Department began production of the U.S. Passport Card on July 14, 2008. The U.S. Passport Card is a wallet-size travel document that can only be used to re-enter the United States at land border-crossings or sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The card provides a less expensive, smaller, and more convenient alternative to the U.S. Passport Book for people who travel frequently between US, Canada, Mexico Bermuda, and the Caribbean nations.

A few common questions:

Why can’t I use the passport card to fly to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda?

The U.S. Passport Card was designed for the specific needs of the traveler between the northern and southern borders of the United States. As such, the U.S. Passport Card is not a globally recognized travel document like the traditional U.S. Passport Book. So, while the U.S. Passport Card has limited use for certain travelers, the U.S. Passport Book will remain the recognized international travel document.

Did a new law go into effect in June 2009 delaying passport requirements for land border crossings and sea travel?

Yes. The U.S. Passport Card and U.S. Passport Book can both be used to travel between Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) countries. ( You can find up-to-date information at the U.S. State Department’s website).

Next, we’ll present a brief recap of the differences between the U.S. Passport Book and U.S. Passport Card.