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Passport Card Satisfies Real ID Act


 

Travelers concerned about whether a driver’s license or other state-issued identification card will be accepted at the airport for a domestic flight can rest easy—for now. 

The Department of Homeland Security has granted all states that are not yet in compliance with the REAL ID Act an extension until October 10. That means travelers from all states can continue to use their driver’s licenses, whether or not they meet REAL ID standards. States that have extensions are Alaska, California, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington. The others are already fully compliant.

But with another deadline looming, it’s a good idea to learn about what other forms of ID are acceptable to get through security at the airport, if you’re flying from a noncompliant state with an extension. While everyone is aware of a passport book, some travelers may not realize that there’s a cheaper alternative. A wallet-size passport card fulfills some, but not all, of the functions of a passport book.

A passport card meets the requirements of the REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005 and designed to improve security and prevent identification fraud. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will accept it as identification for domestic air travel. While it cannot be used as an ID for international air travel, a passport card can be used to enter the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. 

Because a passport card cannot be used for international flights, many cruise lines suggest that passengers get a passport book just in case they need to fly from the U.S. to meet their ship if they miss their scheduled embarkation, or if they need to fly home for any reason before their cruise ends (think: emergency).

A passport card is also cheaper than a passport book. For travelers 16 and older the card is valid for 10 years. The fee is $55 for applicants 16 and older, $40 for those under age 16. Renewing the card by mail costs $30. For comparison, the fee for a passport is $135 for anyone 16 and older and $105 for those under age 16. A renewal is $110 by mail. There has also been recent talk of increasing the passport book fees.

The application process is the same for a passport book or passport card. You can obtain an application online but you must go in person to a passport acceptance facility, usually post offices, libraries, or government offices, to hand it in. And remember not to sign the application until you’re instructed to do so in front of a designated official.

You’ll have to bring several documents, including proof of U.S. citizenship, which for most people will be their birth certificate, a photo ID (as well photocopies of the front and back of each), an official passport photo, and your payment by check or money order. 

For help with any questions or assistance in planning a trip across the country or around the world, contact Travel Leaders COS at 800-273-0793, locally 719-597-0004, or send us an email at info@TravelLeadersCOS.com.

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