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US Passport Card

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us-passport4The US passport card is a convenient alternative to the bulky US passport booklet. The card is approximately the size of a credit card and provides both identification and proof of citizenship without the bulk of the standard passport. It fulfills the new travel requirements for land and sea border crossings into Canada, Mexico, Bahamas and the Caribbean from the United States effective June 2009. However, air travel to these and other destinations still requires the standard US passport booklet, which remains the only valid document.

Applications for the US passport card were accepted from January 2008 and the new passport cards were issued starting June 2008. US citizens can expect to receive their cards three weeks after applying. You must apply for the passport card to the US Department of State and the card is only available to US citizens. Non-citizens will still be required to carry their regular passport when traveling outside of the US.

It is your right as a US citizen to apply. The card is a quick and convenient way to travel to the destinations listed above. It is a cheaper alternative for those individuals who do not already have a US passport. The United States passport card eliminates the need to carry a birth certificate and valid identification (such as a driver's license or state identification). The card is also a valid form of identification for use by air travel within the United States, and a proof of age for tobacco and alcohol purchases.

Application for the US passport card is quick and easy. You can download the Application guide online and fill out the accompanying forms. Make sure you include two identical passport photos that meet the criteria set out in the application guide.

Take your application to your local official passport facility, often located in your local US post office. There are over 9000 designated passport application offices nationwide.

Don't forget to include your proof of identity, proof of citizenship, any additional documentation and passport photos. Remember if you do not complete the forms correctly or include all of the required documentation, you will not receive your card and may have to reapply. There is a filing fee for your application, payable in the form of a certified check or money order.

Provided you have filled out the forms correctly and have all of the required documentation, you should receive your US passport card in 3 weeks.

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