The Real ID Act requires that all stat-issued identification documents meet a minimum set of security standards. Luckily, the passport card is accepted as a Real ID.
In the beginning, the passport card was designed to increase the speed and security at U.S. land and sea border crossings. A U.S. passport card can be used as U.S. identification when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. It can be used at land crossings and sea ports. The passport card is more convenient (smaller) and less expensive than the traditional passport book.
For travelers, passport cards are ideal in these travel situations:
The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air – only land and sea and only in the regions previously mentioned. If you miss your connection and the cruise sails away without you, you may be routed through a country where a passport card is not accepted. In those situations, you’ll be turned away at the gate or forced to return to the U.S. without catching up to your cruise.
The passport card contains a radio frequency identification, or RFID, chip that allows border inspectors to access photographs and biographical information stored in secure government databases. Important to know: no personal information is stored on the RFID chip, so you are not exposed to risk or loss of your personally identifying information when you pass through an inspection station.
Still, it’s important to keep your passport card inside its protective sleeve to be safe from unauthorized reading or tracking when the card is not in use.
See the instructions to apply for a U.S. Passport Card on the U.S. State Department website.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.