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My passport book and card are expiring in 6 months, and I'd like to renew them, but I have a couple (land-entry) trips to Canada coming up that I'd like to use my passport card for.

Is it permissible to renew my passport book separately from the passport card?

The official website is unclear:

Yes. You can apply for both a passport book and passport card at the same time using either Form DS-11 (apply in person) or Form DS-82 (renew by mail - must be eligible). To apply for or renew both the book and card, check the appropriate box at the top of the form to indicate that you would like to apply for both products.

If you have a passport book and you are eligible to use Form DS-82, you may apply for a passport card as a renewal by mail even if it is your first passport card.

Please note: If you're renewing your passport book and passport card, you must submit both documents. If you can submit a passport book, but you lost your passport card, you cannot renew the passport card using Form DS-82.

It says I need to submit both documents at the same time if I'm renewing both, but doesn't say if it's required to renew them at the same time. (I could probably time an expedited passport renewal between the Canada trips, but would rather not pay the $60 fee if I don't have to)

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  • Will either of your trips be long enough to renew your passport while you are in Canada? – phoog Aug 26 '19 at 16:11
  • I don't know specifically about the US, but here in Germany you apply for the new document, but only give back (or invalidate) the old document, when you pick up the new one. – Simon Aug 26 '19 at 16:50
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    @Simon - the document being renewed has to be mailed back with the renewal request (which can take 6 - 8 weeks for a normal renewal, 2 - 3 weeks for an regular expedited renewal). phoog - my trips to canada are a few days each, not long enough to renew a passport. – Johnny Aug 26 '19 at 17:13
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    @Simon: In the US, you don't pick up a new passport in person - it's sent to you by mail. – Nate Eldredge Aug 26 '19 at 18:21
  • @Johnny Nate ah, ok, didn't know that, so nevermind. – Simon Aug 27 '19 at 6:12
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I have done this. I got a passport card, then a passport book separately via renewal (using my card to get the book). There wasn't anything special, just costs more in time, energy and postage to do them separately.

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    It does have the advantage that you always have a passport proof of identity on you. If the post office loses your passport, you can still renew both with the passbook without having to get all of your ID documents again. – RoboKaren Aug 27 '19 at 0:39
  • I chose your answer as "Best answer" even though it didn't have any supporting references/documentation because I did the same as you and renewed them separately and it worked. Though in retrospect it probably didn't matter, I got my passport back in plenty of time for my trip even without expedited processing, so I suspect I could have done both at the same time. – Johnny Feb 3 '20 at 5:41
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Official advice is inconsistent.

I contacted NPIC@state.gov to ask this:

I have a question about passport renewal. I currently hold both a passport book and card, both valid, and am eligible to renew by mail. I would like to renew the book only, while keeping the card in my possession in case I need it in the meantime for identification or travel.

Am I allowed to submit DS-82 to apply for a passport book only, and submit only my passport book? If so, should I still list my current passport card number on the form? And will my passport card remain valid?

After a first reply which was annoyingly non-responsive (copy/pasted irrelevant instructions from the website which did not address the question), I received the answer:

To be eligible to use the DS-82 renewal form by mail, you must submit the most recent passports (and it has not been lost, stolen, mutilated, or damaged) that was issued when you were 16 or older and issued within past 15 years (counting from ISSUE date). Also, include a note with your renewal application to NOT cancel the card and request that it be returned.

Which is still not very clear, but does make it sound like you have to submit both the card and the book if you have both, even though you may only want to renew one. You can have the card returned instead of cancelled, but that doesn't really help, as the whole point of doing this would be to keep the card in your possession, and valid, while the renewal is being processed.


Update: After I received the above answer, another email arrived from another agent with a different answer:

It depends.

IF BOTH passport products are still valid:

If you have both passport products and they were issued at the same time but only want to renew one of them, you will only submit the item you want to renew with Form DS-82.

If you have both passport products and they were not issued at the same time but only want to renew one of them, you will only submit the item you want to renew with Form DS-82.

That is more explicit, and more in line with what we would hope, but it is confusing that the agent says "it depends" and then reaches the same conclusion ("you will only submit the item you want to renew") for both cases. I wondered if they made a copy-paste mistake and meant for one of them to be different, so I sent a reply requesting further clarification.


In reply to the previous message, I received two separate responses. Agent #2097 wrote:

You may renew the passport book and card seperately. If you are renewing your passport book only, submit your most recent passport book with the DS-82 renewal application.

And a few hours later, without any further prompting on my part, Agent #100318 sent:

Yes. You must submit both even if you only want to renew one of them, doesn't matter which one.

And the next day, yet a third agent (#150023) weighed in:

You CAN send your passport book in for renewal and keep your passport card for travel. We suggest that you include a letter with your renewal letting the agency know that you have your card in your possession and that you have kept it for upcoming travel.

So, these directly contradict each other. It seems that even the authorities themselves don't know the answer to this. But the majority seem to think this is allowed; maybe Agent #100318 is just wrong. Nevertheless, if you try it, there may be some risk that your application is processed by someone in Agent #100318's camp, with unknown consequences (though none of these agents have suggested the worst-case scenario, that your passport card might be silently revoked).

(Side note: the agent numbers are pretty funny, like something from The Prisoner or Get Smart. But I'm skeptical that there are a hundred and fifty thousand people answering emails for the National Passport Information Center. :)

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  • For the "gotten away" part I guess the question is, does the thing you don't send in with the renewal still work for border crossing (it might still pass for RealID) or is it cancelled? The anecdote in the accepted answer seems to have sent the card in to get a book, which is the situation your quote might apply to, while the other anecdotes don't mention actually using the thing they didn't send in for renewal. – Dennis May 30 at 0:32
  • What’s the worst case scenario if you keep your passport card though? That Canada will reject you at the border as the document will be marked as invalid? Going back to the US will be no issue whatsoever as citizens cannot be denied entry no matter what. – JonathanReez 2 days ago
  • @JonathanReez: "That Canada will reject you at the border as the document will be marked as invalid?" Right, that'd be pretty unpleasant as it could cancel your whole trip. – Nate Eldredge 2 days ago
  • Applying for NEXUS is probably the best solution then as that card is completely independent from your passport. – JonathanReez 2 days ago
  • @JonathanReez: That's a tough sell, though, as it requires a separate trip to an enrollment center on the Canadian border. For me the nearest is 800 miles away. I'd probably rather do an urgent passport application at a passport agency, even if it means standing in line all day. – Nate Eldredge 2 days ago
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If you have a passport book ..., you may apply for a passport card as a renewal by mail

The use of the word "may" implies that applying for both at the same time is optional, IE, you may also not apply for a passport card renewal.

Everything I see on Form DS82 sounds like you can use this form to renew your passport book OR your passport card OR both.

For example, the form has multiple references to "U.S. passport book and/or U.S. passport card"

The U.S. passport book and/or U.S. passport card that I am renewing has not been mutilated, damaged, lost, stolen or subsequently found.

-

WHAT DO I SEND WITH THIS APPLICATION FORM? Your most recent U.S. passport book and/or card;

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Please select the document(s) for which you are applying:

  • U.S. Passport Book

  • U.S. Passport Card

  • Both

So you should be able to renew your passport book now by mail, and renew your passport card by mail later. That way you always have some form of passport.

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    The "and/or" wording seems ambiguous to me. One possible reading is "submit one or both, corresponding to what you want to renew", in which case OP can achieve what they want to do: renew the passport book by submitting only the book. Another reading is "submit whichever one you have, or both if you have both", in which case they cannot: they'd have to submit both even if they only ask to renew the book. I would really like to see a clarification of this from an authoritative source, not just our own attempts to parse. – Nate Eldredge Aug 26 '19 at 18:17
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I just actually did this in the last two weeks - - i'm renewing my card first - it was just approved in the online system and i expect to receive by 1/20. i'll then send my book in for seperate renewal -

the online DS-82 is strange in its prompts - it makes it seem like you must send in both, but alas you do not - I printed the DS-82 and it reads very differently. Filled it out and sent it..

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