The Difference Between a Passport Book and Card

Mexico is a popular destination for Americans who want to get weight loss surgery because it’s much more affordable than having the operation in the US. However, in order to travel to Mexico, you’ll need either a passport book or a card. If you don’t know the difference between a passport book and a card, it’s actually very simple:

The passport book can be utilized when traveling by air, water and land.

The passport card can be used for only land and water travel.

Example of a US passport card.

If you are considering driving to Mexico, then the passport card may be a better option. On the other hand, if you’d prefer to fly directly to your destination rather than drive, then the passport book will be required for you to fly into Mexico.

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A Lighter Me’s facilities are located in Tijuana, Mexico, which is only about a half-hour drive from San Diego. We actually provide transportation from the San Diego airport to Tijuana, so you may be able to save yourself some money by booking a domestic flight and then crossing over the border by car.

In addition, the passport book is more expensive at approximately $145 for adults 16 years of age and older. The passport card is a cheaper alternative at around $65.

How to Apply For a US Passport Book vs Card

Applying for a US passport is – for the most part – a straightforward process. Although the process differs depending on whether or not you already have a passport, as long as you follow a few specific rules and guidelines, you shouldn’t have any issues.

First-time Passport Applications vs. Renewal Applications

If you’re applying for a passport for the first time, you must do it in person. There are specific facilities, including courthouses, public libraries and post offices, that provide passports. The U.S. Department of State has a handy locator tool to help you find a facility near you. If you are renewing your passport, you have the option to do so by mail.

If you don’t already have a passport and this is the first time you are applying for one, you will need to fill out the DS-11 form. If you’re renewing your passport, you have to complete the DS-82 form. Those forms are available electronically and as printable PDFs on the US Department of State website.

Supporting Documentation That’s Required to Get a Passport Book or Card

Whether you’re applying for a passport for the first time or you’re renewing your passport, you’ll need to gather some supporting documents, including your proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, and another form of identification, such as a driver’s license. If someone under the age of 16 is traveling with you to Mexico, they’ll need proof of their relationship to you to get their passport.

You’ll Need a Recent Photograph for Your Passport

Examples of high-quality passport photos with proper lighting, positioning and headspace.

Make sure your passport photo has good lighting and that your head is positioned in the middle of the frame. Your photo must be 2 x 2 inches in size.

You will also need a color photo of yourself that’s been taken within the past six months. Some facilities that set you up with a passport also take passport photos.

In addition, many shipping centers, such as FedEx and UPS offer passport photo services, as well as pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens. You also can get your passport photo taken at Walmart.

Get Your Passport Well in Advance of Your Departure Date

Receiving your passport can take some time. It is recommended to allow at least six to eight weeks to receive your passport before your trip in case of any delays. If you find yourself in a bind and you need your passport more quickly, there are ways to expedite the process by paying an additional fee.

Regardless of which option you choose, both the passport book and the passport card are valid for 10 years if you are over the age of 16. Passports for US citizens under 16 are good for only five years.

Eligibility Requirements for US Passport Books and Cards

In order to obtain a US passport, you must be an American citizen (either by birth or by naturalization). You are ineligible if you are not an American citizen.

If you already have a passport but it needs to be renewed, you may still be ineligible for renewal for the following reasons:

  • Your passport was created before your 16th birthday
  • Your passport was issued more than fifteen years ago
  • Your passport was damaged, stolen or lost
  • Your passport was issued in a previous name and you do not possess legal documentation as proof to the name change

If you are ineligible because of one or more of these reasons, then you cannot renew your passport and must apply for a new passport in person.

Although applying for a passport can seem like a daunting process, as long as you give yourself enough time, you’ll have no problem getting your passport for traveling to Mexico. If you have any other questions regarding the passport application process, please contact us and we’ll help you the best we can.