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If you want to apply for a passport card for cruising and trips across the border, the process just got much easier – if you already have a valid 10-year passport book, anyway. Rather than mailing in your passport and DS-82 form, you can now apply online (via an encrypted and secure application) and keep your passport safe at home. Note: The online option is only available as a pilot program which will last until April 22 or 20,000 applications, whichever comes first.

A passport card (also called a PASS Card) is not a replacement for your passport, as it can only be used for land and sea travel between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda – it cannot be used for air travel. It is, however, ideal for frequent border-crossing commuters and cruisers. The card is wallet-sized and contains an RFID chip to speed up the customs process, and is only $30 if you already have a passport. An added bonus: Having a passport card makes it easier to replace a stolen or lost passport – although we hope you never need it for that, of course.

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