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Can I use my US passport card to get served in a drinking establishment? I do not have a driver's license and don't like carrying my passport around with me.

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    Welcome to travel.SE. In which country? – Karlson Apr 9 '14 at 20:28
  • I know in some Minnesota bars passports don't work, but it's really up to the company behind the bar not the bar itself. – user27272 Feb 28 '15 at 2:17
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    Can you? Yes, I have many times. However, be aware the proprietor can refuse to accept any for of ID – Johns-305 Aug 19 '17 at 16:07
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This generally varies by locality. Most places, to my knowledge, simply have laws limiting the age of persons wishing to drink. How that age is determined may be left wildly open to interpretation in some places, while other jurisdictions may require specific forms of identification.

In most places, any government issued ID will suffice from a legal standpoint, although it's often up to the particular security guard/bouncer whether he wishes to accept your ID.

I was with a Mexican friend once in the US, who was denied entry into a bar because the bouncer could not read the birthday on her Mexican-issued ID. If she had been carrying her passport, I expect she would have been allowed in.

I would be somewhat surprised if there are any laws that require that a passport (card) be considered a valid proof of age, but I would be even more surprised if there are any places that prohibit it. This means it's mostly going to be left up to the local security guards to make a judgment call.

In most places, I imagine it would be accepted.

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Minnesota only accepts driver's licenses, instructional permits, or ID cards issued by a United State or Canadian Province; a US-issued military ID; or a passport book. See Subd6: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=340a.503

We can't take a Puerto Rican ID of any kind (despite their territory status), a Resident Alien card (green card), an Employment Authorization Card (EAC), a Global Entry card, or a passport card. I would wager a bet that the vast majority of bartenders/servers here don't know they can't technically take those, since I've turned people down who subsequently shouted at me that "everyone else takes this, I've been served here before on this ID". It's a bit stupid that a state can decline to accept a US-government-issued ID that includes the individual's photo, birthdate, and an expiration date, but such is the law.

TL; DR: have your state-issued license or ID with you, or your full passport book, when you go to a bar or restaurant.

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    Has there been an actual administrative or judicial determination that a passport card is not a "passport" for the purpose of the statute you link to? Federal passport regulations, at least, define passport thus: "Passport means a travel document regardless of format issued under the authority of the Secretary of State attesting to the identity and nationality of the bearer." (emphasis added) – phoog Apr 25 '18 at 16:09
  • The lack of a definition (by the state) of "passport" and "foreign national" could also create problems for refugees or stateless people visiting the US with non-passport travel documents. – phoog Apr 25 '18 at 16:20
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    @phoog: That's hardly surprising. Almost every country in the world has some regulation which "creates problems for refugees or stateless people." – Kevin Apr 25 '18 at 18:22
  • @Kevin no doubt, and not being able to buy alcohol is perhaps least among them. Still, it's an effective example of how easy it is for laws to have unintended consequences. – phoog Apr 25 '18 at 18:29
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    On a literal reading, my old District of Columbia drivers license wouldn't work. However, there's often a general statement that "state" includes DC for the purpose of such-and-such a law. For example, in MN's version of the UCC, "(38) "State" means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States." – Andrew Lazarus Apr 25 '18 at 19:17
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Actually, in California (as well as some other places) the passport ID CARD is NOT accepted as a valid form of id to purchase alcohol. This is because it lacks some of the information required, mainly " a physical description" of that person (height, weight, eye/hair color etc.). I know this may seem crazy, being that it is perfectly valid for other things, but this is the case legally. You may get away with it though if the person checking your id is careless or uninformed. Best bet is to make sure to bring another acceptable form of id.

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    Does that mean even US passport books aren't valid? I don't think they contain those Details either – Crazydre Aug 18 '17 at 12:04
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    @Crazydre in 2010, the law was amended to include passports explicitly as an acceptable form of identification for this purpose, regardless of the presence or absence of a physical description. Only a California court could say for certain whether that includes passport cards or not; I don't know whether any such ruling has already been issued. See codes.findlaw.com/ca/business-and-professions-code/… – phoog Aug 18 '17 at 12:26
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It depends. In Massachusetts, where I live, for example, passport cards are accepted, but licenses/IDs from other states are not, which is absurd (not that many people carry passports when travelling domestically after all). However, this is often not enforced, and any reasonable ID (e.g. US state/Canadian provincial license) in practice are usually accepted.

So, the answer is: it depends on which state you are in, and which bar you are going to. I can't imagine a bar which would not accept a license or ID from the state which it's in, and it's rare to see a bar which would not accept a passport. However, in practice, most places do accept reasonable governmental photo IDs with DOB readably printed in English, so you will likely run into minimal trouble.

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Dunno about the US passport card, but I've entered bars in New York and Los Angeles on a Swedish identity card (essentially a passport card) and never had a second look. Thus, it would surprise me tremendously if they were to reject the US equivalent.

But of course, it's bound to vary from establishment to establishment

  • The last sentence is true if, by "location," you mean "business." I've personally witnessed a New York bouncer refusing a European national ID card. It's going to depend quite a bit on the policy of the establishment, the discretionof the employee, and even, dare I say, personal impact and articulation skills. – phoog Aug 19 '17 at 12:20
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It really does depend. I've used an Irish Passport Card as ID for bars and for buying alcohol in stores in cities big and small with no issue in NY, PA, IN, IL, CA, MI, RI, MA and CT however, while in Philly last summer it was confiscated by a thick headed bouncer who clearly couldn't read the word "passport" printed in bold across the top! I ended up getting it back 2 days later when a police officer had to arrest him for possessing a false identification card. Was literally the only way to get it back when the bar wouldn't even consider checking my passport book against the passport card let alone having a reasonable conversation with me! Just be careful.

  • So, how representative is that one example? – JJJ May 15 at 4:58
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The US Passport Card is a valid "REAL ID" form of identification, and thus is recognized as valid ID by all US Federal and State Government departments, in exactly the same way that a Passport is.

So officially, yes, you can use your Passport Card as valid ID in a bar within the US. There is obviously always the risk that the person checking ID's will not be familiar with a Passport Card, however they should have access to a guide that includes details on all valid ID, and the Passport Card should be included.

Outside of the US it is likely to be a bit hit-or-miss, as very few countries have any form of passport "card". Given that it does look like official US ID, it's likely it would work in many locations, but would not be as reliable as a real passport.

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    This is mostly wrong. Within the US, proof of age requirements are regulated by state laws and some states have very specific regulations on which documents may be accepted. Before 2010, US passports were e.g. not valid as a proof of age id for alcohol purchases in California. Many establishments enforce stricter rules than what's actually required by law and may very well not accept passports or passport cards as a proof of age. Outside the US, there are many countries which issue official id cards in the same or similar format as the US passport cards. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Apr 9 '14 at 22:44
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Can you point to a US single state TODAY that will not accept a passport card as valid ID? This question isn't asking about 2009, especially given that passport cards didn't exist before July 2008! – Doc Apr 10 '14 at 0:50
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Other countries may have ID cards that look similar, but it's not uncommon for bars not to accept IDs from another countries other than a passport. Many drivers licenses around the world look similar, but that doesn't mean they will be accepted as valid ID internationally. – Doc Apr 10 '14 at 0:51
  • It took some googling, but it was not that difficult to find state regulations, according to which a passport card is not sufficient proof of age for alcohol purchase. In Oregon, id cards (under which the passport card must be assumed to fall) are only acceptable if they contain a physical description (hair or eye colour and height) of the holder, which the passport card do not. I disagreed with your statement that "very few countries have any form of passport card", not that foreign id cards are not generally accepted as proof of age in the US. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Apr 10 '14 at 16:14
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    @Doc A passport card is not completely interchangeable with a passport book. For example, the US requires its citizens to use a passport book, not card, when flying to a foreign destination or entering by air from a foreign destination. See law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/22/51.3. Also, a passport card, unlike a passport, does not include the bearer's signature, so it is not acceptable for example under DC law, which requires a signature (see beta.code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/code/sections/25-101.html). In short, laws haven't caught up with the introduction of the card. – phoog Aug 18 '17 at 12:20

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