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I'm in the process of renewing my passport. Will I benefit in anyway from a US Passport Card as a form of backup/emergency documentation or for seeking consular services? Or perhaps as just a backup form of documentation? I realize its intended for traveling to Canada, Mexico, and nearby countries.

However, I'm debating whether its at all useful as something extra to keep in my wallet as a form of identification that I'm a US passport holder?

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The USA Passport Card is really only useful if you plan to travel only within the countries bordering the USA.

In terms of back up id in the event you lose your passport, your current state drivers license is perfectly acceptable as an ID for going to US Embassies and Consulates. And is the preferred form of ID within the USA.

While the Passport Card might allow the overseas consul to look up your lost passport details faster, I don't think it would make it that much difference in the end result.

Personally, I made a wallet sized copy of the info page of my passport, which travels in my wallet all of the time. I also have a scanned copy stored online that I can access from a computer. The wallet sized versions satisfies most law enforcement officers should they ask to see my passport when traveling around inside a country (assuming my passport is not on me at that moment).

  • It might also be useful for a US citizen who lives near an internal US Border Patrol checkpoint, or for a resident of a state whose licenses aren't accepted by the TSA for domestic air travel. – phoog Jul 10 '17 at 18:55
  • @phoog Esp. for citizens not coming off as American (due to ethnicity, accent etc.) – Crazydre Nov 27 '17 at 19:21
  • I live in a state (Oklahoma) that hasn't issued Real ID driver's licenses yet. Even when it does, I'm not likely to get one until my current license expires sometime in the 2020's. I'm thinking it might be helpful for me for that reason as well. – T.E.D. Mar 20 '18 at 14:15
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It's debatable. From Wikipedia:

The passport card is considered a “List A” document that may be presented by newly hired employees during the employment eligibility verification process to show work authorized status. “List A” documents are those used by employees to prove both identity and work authorization when completing the Form I-9.

and

According to the US consulate in Germany, the passport card can be used as a valid proof of citizenship and proof of identity both inside and outside the United States. However, the acceptance of the passport card as the identity document by private and governmental entities within the USA varies greatly.

So at least one consulate considered it usable with them.

However, it sounds like it might have been intended to be another valid form of government-issued ID, and may well be great for those living near borders, but companies/banks/bars that usually request passports only, may continue to do just that :/

  • Actually that consulate comment might also referr to Germany, where we have ID cards and most people do not own a passport. The ID card is the primary identification document. I understand that quote as similar to my Personalausweis (ID card) and that if you are for example checking into a hotel or buying a phone contract, they will accept that passport card as proof of identity, just like the German ID card. But they would accept an actual passport anyway. – simbabque Sep 16 '15 at 7:24
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Very valuable it is. As I have Philippine drivers permit, postal I.D. & such. Also a Philippine Visa card. While in America at my bank or other places I find I need use my passport card to prove who I am. This saves having to have my U.S. passport with me in America. My Philippine Visa card does the same there if ask. Citizen U.S. & legal resident of the Philippines. It is a great help in entering America. Just as my Visa is a help returning to the Philippines. Spend more time in the Philippines than in America.

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I recently obtained the card in addition to renewing my passport book.

I felt that the online renewal price of $30 was worth it to have a back up Federal ID. When I travel I plan to keep the passport book in the hotel safe and to keep the card on my person as it is proof of citizenship.
I used to keep copies on me and the book in the hotel but then I realized it would just lead an authority/poser to my hotel... (I travelled in Colombia many years ago when it was very likely one would be randomly asked for ID).

I am headed to Cuba now so I think a second form of ID will be a good idea.

For those who frequently take trains or drive to Mexico or Canada, this card is also a good option. Like the traveler above, I also keep scanned copies of my passport readily accessible online, and before I went to Colombia, I also gave a couple of color copies to relatives (there were no cards back then) just so that if I lost the passport I would have multiple resources to access it's facsimile.

I feel the card is just a better and more reliable back up than copies, though I do intend to keep copies as well.

I can waste $30 just walking down the street in Manhattan, so for me, I think this is money well spent, the worst the card can do is nothing, but if needed, it will be worth every penny.

  • Welcome to the site, and +1. However, beware: the passport card is proof of citizenship as you say, but some countries explicitly accept passports only. It's up to each country to decide whether to accept it. For example, the US embassy in the Netherlands reports that a passport card does not comply with the Dutch compulsory ID law: nl.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/…. In practice, though, a passport card might help you talk your way out of a fine, certainly more than a US driver's license would. – phoog Jul 10 '17 at 18:51
  • Your answer was a large wall of text, please don't do that. I have edited it. – Jan Doggen Jul 10 '17 at 19:44

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