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Passport Cards for U.S. Travelers Driving to Canada, Mexico

Passport cards are now valid for land and sea travel

Confused about passport regulations? Do you need one to cruise? What about driving to Canada? A "Passport Card" may be what you need.

As boarder security continues to tighten, new passport cards are making it easier for U.S. travelers Got your Passport Card?Got your Passport Card?to navigate through various U.S. borders. More than 450,000 Americans have already applied for the fast-track passport that grants them access to Canada and the Caribbean if traveling by land or sea.

 

You don't yet need a passport to drive to Canada, but by June 2009, you'll be asked for a passport at border crossings into Canada and at cruise ship terminals in the Caribbean. The new wallet-sized card contains a chip and random number that allows boarder officials to retrieve your data instantly - which will hopefully reduce bottlenecking.

"When you come to the border, hold your card up to your window, and on the border patrol screen, up will pop your name, your picture, the fact that you are a U.S. citizen, and the number of your card. They'll peek in to see if you're the same person, and speed you on your way," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Passport Services Brenda Sprague in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

The selling point on the card though is its price: $45 ($35 for children under 16) - half the cost of a full passport. If you already have a passport but like the convenience of the card, it's only $20 and can be ordered by mail. Even better, the card is good for a full 10 years. If you're a cruiser, regularly drive to Canada, but don't anticipate flying abroad, this may be the perfect option for you.

For info on how to get a passport card, visit: http://www.travel.state.gov/.

More than 7,600 cards have been mailed to Americans who pre-ordered the cards. All existing orders are expected to be filled by Sept. 30. New applications will take about four weeks to process.

Do you have a passport card?

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