Passport Card Vs. Passport Book?? Which One Would You Get for Cruising??

Updated on May 08, 2010
E.Z. asks from Albertville, MN
14 answers

Hi smart mama's! I am interested in your option on if we should get passport books or passport cards for our family. We have a family vacation planned for January 2011. We are going on a cruise -- we haven't gone on a cruise since 2003 and stuff has changed. I have no desire to ever go abroad where I would actually need a passport book, but from what I have read a passport card is for entering countries by land and sea -- which we will be doing by sea, but if something happens and we need to fly out of a country, will we be able to get back into the US??

We are trying to save $$ so the card would be the cheaper way to go, but not sure if it is for the best? Thoughts??


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answers from Milwaukee on

We are travelling to Canada by car, but went with the books anyway. You never know when the government might decide to switch things up. It may save you $ in the long run.

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answers from Augusta on

I am not sure what the difference in cost is, but I would get an actual passport. If you ever need a passport and just got the card you will have to start over again and pay for the passport. But the passport wil cover you either way. And it is good for ten years if you decide to take a vacation overseas or even to Canada or Mexico.


answers from Bismarck on

I would get the passport book. If you or any of your family get sick or there is an emergeny that you have to fly back home for you will need the book. I know the chances are slim anything like that will happen but I would err on the safe side and spend the extra $$. You can't even get on a plane in a port of call without a book is what I was told in October when I was on a cruise.


answers from Minneapolis on

Here is the gov page on passport cards. There is no flying allowed with the passport card.


answers from Dallas on

We all went on a 7 day cruise last year. We opted for the passports and not the cards. They last longer and we figured we would be using them again in the next five years for the kids. If something happens (God forbid it does) and you need to get out of the country without completing the cruise and need to transport by air, your stuck. Not good.
My two cents is get the passport books and be worry free about it.
Best Regards and happy sailing.



answers from Chicago on

When I looked into it and asked around, the card is better between Mexico/US/Canada while the book is better for more distant travel. I would ge the book.



answers from Milwaukee on

We are travelling to Canada by car, but went with the books anyway. You never know when the government might decide to switch things up. It may save you $ in the long run.



answers from Omaha on

You did not indicate where your cruise is going to so I would check the locations in which the passport card is good for as from what I read they are only good for 3-4 places. Also you can not use the passport card to fly into the US. I would probably spend the extra $$ and get a passport book if you think you may have to fly back into the US.



answers from Boston on

You haven't said where the cruise is to, but if you want to do shore excursions in other countries (even tiny Caribbean islands) then I would get the regular passport. It's good for a long time and maybe you will want to go elsewhere at some point. It's also a perfect ID if your wallet should ever be lost or stolen at home, you could still use it to buy liquor (can't do THAT with birth certificate!)


answers from Fargo on

We took a vacation last June to Canada with all 5 of us (3 kids) and had to get passports. We got the passport cards for our kids because it saved a lot of money. However, if you need to fly, you cannot use the passport cards to enter another country by air. We drove up into Canada, so no problems there. The children's passports are only good for 5 years (whether it's the book or card) which makes it even more pricey for the books, but if you're super concerned about maybe needing to fly back into the States, I wouldn't worry about the $$ issue and just get the books. Hope this helps!


answers from Cincinnati on

I just went on a cruise in January. We had concerns about this for months and decided to save our money and take the chance after researching it. I had NEITHER, and had NO problems. You will waste your money because it is not necessary if you are leaving a US port, and returning to that same exact US port. We left Tampa, and came back to Tampa 6 days later, and there wasn't 1 single time I was asked for a passport. We had our birth certificates only.



answers from Tampa on

Unless you're sure that you will never need a passport book, I would go that route. It clearly states that you cannot use the card for international travel, so, no, you would not be able to use it to fly back into the US from another country. You need a passport book now to fly into any country, including Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. If you're sure that you'll never fly into any other country, the card should be sufficient; if there's any chance you might, then pay the extra money now. The passport is good for 10 years for adults (over 16) and 5 for children.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Get the acutal passport book for the travel reasons stated by the other responders. You might not have a desire to travel abroad but who knows what changes the government might make in regards to traveling to Mexico, Canada, cruises, etc. in the future. You can get cheap passport pictures taken at Walgreens or CVS. I would suggest getting it soon, I heard a few weeks ago on CNN, Fox News ... somewhere) that the prices for passports would be going up sometime this year?? Not that time is an issue for you since you won't be going until Jan 2011....but we just renewed our passports in March and got them back in about 2 weeks and got our son his first passport and it took about 3 weeks for his. Happy cruising!!



answers from Kansas City on

Well I'm going to muck it up a little bit.
Yes it is true that you don't need anything, (I don't think) if you are leaving and coming from US ports.
I personally would get both. It really isn't that much more, unless of course you wait until the last minute and have to pay to get it expedited. My understanding is that the card is only good in and out of Canada and Mexico.
But to be safe I would check with the cruise line AND the government.

Have fun!



answers from Omaha on

I decided to go with the full passport, that way if we decide to go to Canada or Mexico- we have what we need- apparently if you fly into a country you must have the passport- the pass card doesn't work. It didn't seem like there was too much to the price difference to actually take the chance of getting stuck somewhere

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