United States Passport Card
|United States Passport Card|
The front cover of a United States passport card.
|Date first issued||14 July 2008|
|Issued by||United States|
|Type of document||Passport card|
|Eligibility requirements||United States nationality|
|Expiration||10 years after acquisition for people at least age 16; 5 years for minors under 16|
|Cost||$55 (first) / $30 (when applying for or holder of a valid passport booklet) / $40 (minor) / $15 (minor, when applying for passport booklet)|
The passport card (previously known as the People Access Security Service Card, or PASS Card) is an alternative to a passport produced in the United States to meet the documentary requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The U.S. Passport Card is a wallet-size travel document, issued to U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals, that 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 air travel. 
Applications have been accepted since February 1, 2008; production of the cards began 14 July 2008. As of September 2013, more than 7 million Passport Cards had been issued to U.S. citizens. The card is manufactured by L-1 Identity Solutions. Identity cards with the same objectives are common inside the European Union for both national and international use.
The passport card is an alternative to an ordinary U.S. passport booklet for land and sea travel within North America (Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda). It cannot currently be used for international air travel. The Department of State indicates that this is because "designing a card format passport for wide use, including by air travelers, would inadvertently undercut the broad based international effort to strengthen civil aviation security and travel document specifications to address the post 9/11 threat environment."
The passport card is being issued by the United States Department of State in response to border community residents' needs for a less expensive and more portable alternative to the conventional booklet since the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative's requirements for travelers to carry a single document verifying both identification and citizenship have come into effect. In an effort to improve efficiency at land crossings, the passport card also includes a vicinity-read radio frequency identification chip with a unique identifying number tied to government databases; unlike the passport book, the RFID chip in the passport card is designed to be readable at a greater distance and will not contain any information from the MRZ of the passport card beyond the identifying number. To prevent the RFID chip from being read when the card is not being used, the passport card comes with a sleeve designed to block RFID while inside.
Under the REAL ID Act, the passport card will also be accepted for federal purposes (such as domestic air travel or entering federal buildings), which may make it an attractive option for people living in states whose driver's licenses and ID cards are not REAL ID-compliant when those requirements go into effect. TSA regulations list the passport card as an acceptable identity document at airport security checkpoints.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has indicated that the U.S. Passport Card may be used in the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 process. The passport card is considered a “List A” document that may be presented by newly hired employees during the employment eligibility verification process to show work authorized status. “List A” documents are those used by employees to prove both identity and work authorization when completing the Form I-9.
According to the US consulate in Germany, the passport card can be used as a valid proof of citizenship and proof of identity both inside and outside the United States. However, the acceptance of the passport card as the identity document by private and governmental entities within the USA varies greatly.
Validity and fees
The passport card will share the same validity period as the passport book: 10 years for persons 16 and over, 5 years for children under 16. As of July 13, 2010, the passport card renewal fee for eligible applicants (adults only, by mail) is $30; first-time applicants and those applying in person must also pay a $25 processing fee, for a total fee of $55. Passport cards for children must be applied for in person; the total fee is $40, including the $25 processing fee.
Adults who already have a fully valid passport book may pay a fee of $30 to apply for the card as a passport renewal.
A citizen or national is allowed to hold both a card passport and a booklet passport. A passport in either form entitles its holder to apply for the other form (or both forms) as a "renewal" by mail at the end of its validity period.
The passport card is formatted according to specifications for credit-card (ID-1) sized travel documents, as described in ICAO Document 9303, Part 3, Volume 1. The card contains both human-readable and machine-readable information; the latter is printed in the machine-readable zone on the rear of the card as OCR-readable text in a similar format as on the identity page of the passport book. The zone starts with the letters IP (designated by ICAO for passport card), followed by the issuing country code USA and then the Passport Card's serial number. The general layout of the Passport Card is virtually identical to the layout of the Border Crossing Card issued to Mexican citizens with primarily the background imagery and entitlements varying between the two cards.
In addition to the embedded RFID chip, the front of the card features a complex multi-layer hologram consisting of an American bald eagle surrounded by the words "United States of America Department of State" in a small clearly readable font, further surrounded by the same words repeatedly in microprint. The card's background consists of interweaving smooth curves rich in variable color and microprint. All the personal information on the card is created by laser engraving, with some key information produced in raised tactile engraving, including the date of birth, vertical letters "USA", the passport card number, and an alphanumeric sequence underneath the photograph. A second, smaller "ghost" photograph of the bearer is included on the right side of the card; when closely inspected this ghost image is actually an approximation of the shading in the original photo composed of various letters from the card holders name. There is an embossed seal in the upper left hand corner of the card (partially overlapping the photograph) depicting the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States. On the rear of the card, the "PASSsystem" mark appears in Optically variable ink. When viewed under UV lighting, a reddish-orange bald eagle in flight appears. On newer passport cards, the eagle is surrounded by a blue ring that reads "From Sea To Shining Sea".
U.S. Passport Cards can be used at land border-crossings or sea ports-of-entry only to member states and territories of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, namely Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, the Caribbean Netherlands, the Cayman Islands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatuis, and Saba), Curaçao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica (except for business travel), Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.The US Passport card is accepted for land travel by the immigration authorities of Canada and Mexico.  The U.S. Passport Card is not valid for international air travel.
Several countries and territories are not participating in the WHTI, and the U.S. Passport Card cannot be used when entering the U.S. from these places even though they are considered part of the Caribbean. These are Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago (opted out), Haiti (considered too unstable), Cuba (embargoed), and the French West Indies, composed of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, and Saint Martin (under French sovereignty).
- Passport Fees
- Passport Application Form DS-11 (Accessed December 2, 2013)
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- Driver's License or Passports Preferred ID at Checkpoints, retrieved May 30, 2008.
- USCIS – USCIS Informs The Public That New Passport Card Is Acceptable For Employment Eligibility Verification
- Passport Card
- see page V-11 of ICAO9303 part 3
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- Fact Sheet: Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) Passport Card Technology Choice: Vicinity RFID Release Date: October 17, 2006
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