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US Passport Card Applications Now Available Online

Until yesterday, it was impossible to apply for a US passport exclusively online. Sure, there are application forms and other resources available to get the ball rolling, but you had to use snail mail to send in the application. Now, if you already have a passport and would like a passport card as well, you can take advantage of a new online application procedure that allows you to send off for the card without entering a post office or even licking an envelope.

This option may not be around forever- at the moment, it is part of a 90-day pilot program being conducted by the Department of State.  According to a State Department press release, “This pilot program is the Department’s signature initiative under Presidential Executive Order 13571 to simplify customer service interactions and streamline related processes, making them more efficient.”

The online application is available here. To be eligible to participate, you must already have a US passport book, valid for ten years from the date on which it was issued.  You’ll also need a digital passport photo that meets the applicable State Department requirements, and a credit card and/or a bank account so that you can pay for your passport card on the Pay.gov website.Finally, you must have an email address so that the Department of State can communicate with you about your application. (more…)

Passport Application Mistake Ruins Family’s Trip

A Colorado woman’s passport application mistake provides a stark reminder of the importance of having the correct documents when you travel. According to 9News.com, when Lara Marxhausen went to apply for passports for herself and her family for an upcoming trip to Mexico, the post office clerk suggested she save money by getting a passport card instead.

Passport cards are significantly cheaper. If you’re an adult who has never had a passport before, you’ll pay only $55 if you apply for a passport card, compared to $135 if you apply for a full-sized passport.

Unfortunately, passport cards cannot be used for air travel. They are only good for land and sea travel to and from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. The post office clerk apparently failed to mention this limitation to Ms. Marxhausen. So, when the Marxhausen family went to the airport to catch their flight to Mexico, they were turned away.

Marxhausen told 9News, “I know the burden of proof or the burden of making sure I had the right things does fall upon on me. But I feel I asked for help in this system and was led down an erroneous path.”

To make sure you don’t end up on an erroneous path, read Passports vs. Passport Cards to help clarify the differences between the two documents.

If you end up stranded with a passport card when you need a passport, you do have a couple of options that could potentially save your vacation, or at least part of it, depending on when you catch the error.

One option is to make an appointment at a Regional Passport Agency office. As long as your flight leaves in 2 weeks or less and you still need a passport, you can make an appointment at one of these facilities to get an emergency passport. Unfortunately, there are only 21 passport agency offices in the country and they have somewhat limited hours of operation, so you may have a hard time fitting an appointment into your schedule.

The second option is to use a private passport expediting company like RushMyPassport. Here’s how it works-you send us your passport application, and we’ll personally deliver it to the Department of State, for processing times as quick as 24 hours.

Submit your passport application with us today!

New Passport Book or Passport Card: A Family Learns the Hard Way

When you apply for a new passport, should you get a passport book or passport card? One family learned the difference the hard way.  Sherry Housley and her daughter Whitney  had planned to to take a mother/daughter vacation by the ocean in Cozumel, Mexico.

However, when they went to apply for new passports, the clerk steered them toward ordering one of the wallet-sized new passport cards. Apparently, neither the clerk nor the Housleys was aware of one of the crucial differences between a passport book and a passport card:  A  passport card is only good for travel by land and sea, not by plane. So, when the Housleys tried to board the plane for Mexico, they were not allowed on board and they missed their vacation.

The passport book is only type of passport that is accepted for international air travel. The passport card was really meant to be a cheaper form of identification for people who live near the border and drive across frequently, to make it easier for them to comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that requires passports for border crossings.

Unless you drive across the border frequently,  go ahead and spring for a full-fledged passport book when you apply for a new passport.  Also, make sure to allow enough time for your passport to arrive-it can take at least 6 weeks with regular service and 3 weeks for the government’s expedited service.

However, a private passport expediting company can speed this process up by personally dropping off your passport application at the Department of State. With an expediting company, depending on the package you buy, your new passport could be on its way back to you in as little as 24 hours!

Apply for your new passport today!

How To Apply For A New Passport Card

The passport card is a new  type of identification that is designed to be easy to carry in your wallet. It is the size and shape of a driver’s license, but is valid only for certain types of international travel. To apply for a new passport card, you will need to use one of the following procedures:

If You Already Have a US Passport:

If you already have a US passport, you may be able to apply for a new passport card using passport renewal form DS-82. To use this option, your current US passport must be undamaged and in your possession. Also, it must be less than 15 years since it was issued, and if your name has changed in the interim, you need official documentation of the name change.  Finally, in order to apply for a passport card by mail, your passport must have been issued when you were 16 or older. If you are eligible to apply by mail, fill out the form and send it in along with:

  • Your passport.
  • Legal proof of any name change.
  • Two recent passport photos.
  • A check or money order for $20.00

If you don’t have a passport already or are otherwise ineligible to apply by mail, you’ll need to do the following:

However, before you apply for a new passport card, consider carefully whether or not you might be better off getting a US passport book. A US passport card can only be used for land and sea travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. It cannot be used to travel to any other countries, and it cannot be used for international air travel at all.

A US passport is more expensive and bulkier, but it can be used to travel anywhere, by any means. Plus, you can’t expedite a passport book-so you’ll have to wait at least 6 weeks before you get yours.

However, you can expedite a new passport. The easiest way to do this is to use a private passport expediting service. An expediting service like RushMyPassport.com can help you with all the paperwork and will hand-deliver your passport application to the Department of State. Your new passport could be on its way back to you in as little as 24 hours.

Can You Expedite a Passport Card?

Update: The US passport card can now be expedited by mail through the US Department of State, with emergency processing available through some (but not all) regional passport agencies. 

‘On June 1st, 2009, the rules governing travel between the United States and Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean will change. Currently, only air travelers need a passport to re-enter the United States-land and sea travelers can use a photo ID (like a driver’s license), and proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate). In just a few short weeks, land and sea travelers will also be required to show a passport.

To make it easier for frequent travelers to carry the appropriate travel documents, the government has introduced a cheaper, wallet-sized passport card. Please note that the passport card is valid for land and sea travel only-air travelers to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean still need the full-fledged (and full-priced) passport book.

How long does it take to get your hands on a passport card? Try 2 to 3 months…there is currently no way to expedite a passport card, only a passport book. If you’ll be crossing the border after June 1st and you haven’t applied for a passport yet, you’ll need to apply for a passport book to make sure you have the appropriate documentation by the deadline.

Fortunately, expediting a passport book is easy to do. You have a couple of different options. First, you can expedite your passport through the US Department of State, although you will still have to wait at least 3 weeks. If you want to be absolutely positive that you get your passport by June 1st, a private passport expediting company is the best way to go.

These companies expedite your passport by delivering your application directly to the US Passport Agency, where it goes to the top of the stack for processing.  With a private passport expediting company, you can have your passport processed in anywhere from 24 hours to a little over a week, depending on how soon you need it.

Be prepared for June 1st-Expedite your passport today!