You know what documents you need to get on an airplane. For most people in the U.S., you show your driver’s license to the TSA agent at the checkpoint. If you’re taking an international flight, you’ll have your passport with you and might use that instead. The TSA currently allows many different forms of identification to get past the security checkpoint. Here’s the list from tsa.gov:
- Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
- Beginning May 3, 2023, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the U.S., make sure it is REAL ID compliant. If you are not sure if your ID complies with REAL ID, check with your state department of motor vehicles.
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
- Permanent resident card
- Border crossing card
- State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
- An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized, Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
- Transportation worker identification credential
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
I’ve seen U.S. passport cards before but never thought they were good for much. When my dad showed me he had gotten one, I thought it was a waste of money since he got his passport at the same time.
What can you use a U.S. passport card for, anyway?
We’ve established you can use a U.S. passport card to get onto a domestic airplane flight. What else? As per the U.S. Department of State, here’s a list of the uses for a passport card:
Entering the United States at land border crossings and sea ports-of-entry from:
- The Caribbean
So if you’d like to drive into Canada to look at Niagara Falls, all you’d need to bring with you is your U.S. passport card.
One important point, not to be overlooked, is that the U.S passport card is REAL ID compliant. This means it’s a valid ID for the TSA to get you onto a domestic flight, allow you into a federal building, and even get a drink (maybe).
So that leaves the question – should you get one? Personally, I didn’t. For one thing, a U.S. passport card isn’t free, but it does cost less than a passport book.
Adult Renewal Applicants (16 and Older):
So getting a passport card will cost you $30 whether you are getting it alone or along with a passport book.
If you’re only planning to travel between the U.S. and Canada and/or Mexico via land, or to the Caribbean on a cruise ship, then you can save a significant amount of money by getting a U.S. passport card instead of a passport book.
If you’d rather use the U.S. passport card as your REAL ID to board a plane instead of a state-issued drivers license or ID, it might make sense for you to get a U.S. passport card.
If you make infrequent trips between the US and Canada and/or Mexico by land and are not a frequent cruise passenger to the Caribbean, yet you travel internationally by plane, it would make sense to get a passport book and not pay the extra money for a passport card.
It’s all up to you and where/how you tend to travel. So, as always, Your Mileage May Vary
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
Featured Image By U.S. Department of State [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons