American citizens can apply for a passport card at the same time they apply for a passport book. There’s even a small discount when you do so.

I’ve heard, however, it’s better to apply for them separately because if you apply at the same time, both the book and the card will have the same number and if you lose one of them, the other becomes invalid when you report the loss. For example, this comment in this article below:

One important trick... do not get your card at the same time as the passport book. If you do that they will both have the same number and if one is lost or stolen, the other immediately becomes invalid. If you get the card separately it will have its own distinct number and will remain valid even if your passport book is stolen. Comment on thread in Elliot.org

Is this really the case? This seems really another reason not to get the card — or at least not to get the card at the same time.

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    American here... what is a passport card, and why would an American want or need one when they already have a passport book? I've been traveling for 10 years and have never heard of this.
    – user428517
    Feb 2, 2018 at 18:52
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    @sgroves A passport card is a federal ID card issued to US citizens, proving citizenship and usable for domestic identification purposes as well as land and sea travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and much of the Caribbean. So it is a convenient alternative for, say, people who frequently take the car/train/bus into Canada.
    – Crazydre
    Feb 2, 2018 at 19:29
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    @sgroves Post-9/11 changes mandated passports to cross the Mexico/Canada borders. A complaint was that not everybody could afford a passport. Passport fees pay in part for overseas consular services, by limiting the validity of the document to North America, it costs less. The passport card also is valid for Real ID, which you might need soon if your state is behind. It also serves as a backup when traveling, if you lose your passport book, it may be easier to get a replacement with the card in your possession.
    – user71659
    Feb 2, 2018 at 20:12
  • @Coke and user71659 Got it, thanks! That makes sense now. I didn't consider those situations.
    – user428517
    Feb 2, 2018 at 21:04
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    There are three states which border Canada where the driver's license if you pay an additional fee can be "enhanced" to allow border crossings. This is in a state where the requirements for the driver's license come very close to the requirements for a passport and have been approved by the Department of State to be used in place of the passport card. Similar to the passport card the enhanced drivers licenses are only good for land or boat travel to the adjacent country. The book is still required if you would like to travel outside of that area Feb 3, 2018 at 3:32

4 Answers 4


It’s wrong.
They have completely different numbers, and are unrelated; the pattern is also different.

Note that the ‘overlap’ technique for usage works very limited only, as the passport card is not valid for entry into the US except on the land borders. So if you are flying, you need a passport, or a Global Entry card (and they typically ask for a passport there too, but it should work without one).

  • 4
    Do you have a source for the unrelated numbers? I know it’s hard to prove a negative....
    – RoboKaren
    Feb 2, 2018 at 20:28
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    I went and checked mine (ordered together). I understand that’s anecdotal, but it is quite convincing for me.
    – Aganju
    Feb 2, 2018 at 20:30
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    Yes, they are different too. Different patterns.
    – Aganju
    Feb 2, 2018 at 20:35
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    As I have both as well, I can confirm that the numbers are different and of completely different formats. Incidentally if you use your passport book to drive to Canada you will not receive a stamp from customs if you are a United States citizen. I do not know about for other citizens. Feb 3, 2018 at 3:25
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    Global entry card isn't (at least officially) enough at airports, CBP says "You may use this card for expedited entry into the United States via the SENTRI and NEXUS lanes," which means land borders only.
    – Kevin
    Feb 3, 2018 at 19:25


I'm not certain this is a 100% reliable source, but it states that the numbering format is different for each product, so if true, your concerns wouldn't be a problem.

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    Physically examining my two purchased at the exact same time shows that they are different. Feb 3, 2018 at 3:26

I am not from the US but from a country (the Netherlands) where the citizens can get an ID card as well as a passport.

I have always applied at different dates, due to practical reasons, but would not want to apply for the two at the same time as for me the fact they have different expiry dates is very important.
When traveling within the region where the ID card is valid for border crossings, I am never without a valid document even when I fail to replace a document.
(Besides, due to the local laws, I should always carry on or the other when out of the house, having both I can take my passport when my ID card has to be renewed or is in the process of doing so.)

I think these points should work in the USA for the passport card (as long as the end date of validity is based on the date it is applied for and not on the date your passport expires) and the passport booklet.


Nope! In fact, it would be very difficult to manufacture passport books and cards to have related or identical numbers.

The passport book numbers are all pre-printed before your personal information is printed. Each issuing agency has tens of thousands of these blank booklets, where every personal-information field is blank except the passport number.

When they process your application for a book, they just take a random blank booklet off the pile and print your personal information on it. Then, they register your personal information in their computer system.

Hence, the only thing that relates the booklet number with your personal identity is with the computer system to which no one except the US government has access.

Same goes with your passport card. When they process your application, they just take a random card (assigned an arbitrary, unrelated number), and print your information on it.

Since these are arbitrary and random, the numbers will not be related.

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