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PASS Card Passport Card and Other Passport Substitutes

High Tech Driver's License Also Proposed


PASS Passport Card Back

PASS Passport Card Back

Screenshot courtesy DHS
Availability of new passport substitutes is (finally) here with the PASS (People Access Security Service) card; you can apply for a passport card here. The PASS card and other potential passport substitutes will enable US citizens to cross land borders between Canada, Mexico and the US without a traditional and more expensive passport. The PASS passport card is cheaper than a passport; a high-tech driver's license is also available in some states.


The PASS card (People Access Security Service) is a credit card-sized passport substitute available to all US citizens who are also eligible for passports. It weighs in at $45 (renewals $20 for adults over 16). The point is expense -- especially for student travelers, a $97 passport can be a big deterrent to a quick trip to a bordering country.

Users will be able to present the PASS passport card at any land and sea border between the US and Mexico and Canada just as they would a passport, and enter the country accordingly.

The PASS passport card has been controversial in part because it contains chips using insecure RFID technology which critics (and plenty of others) say can allow anybody with the right Radio Shack equipment to read the information stored on the chip. The government says it's perfectly fine and that they have been working on that technology, and that none of your personal information is stored on your chip. Decide for yourself:

Read more about other documents acceptable for US border crossings:

    PASS Card News

    • PASS Card Development Announced: "...Travel associations have commented negatively on proposed implementation of passport regulations. The National Tour Association, which has a membership comprised largely of tour operators, had previously informed the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security that "...a passport-only (border crossing) requirement would severely limit student travel." (Read more...)

    • PASS Card Development Open for Public Comment: "...The advent of the new passport 'substitute,' the PASS card, has been announced at last -- a federal rule proposing the development of the inexpensive card-format passport for international travel has been submitted for public comment. Production of the long-awaited PASS card, the idea of which was discussed by the Department of Homeland Security in January 2006, should ease the worries of the student travel industry..." (Read more...)

    • PASS Passport Card On the Way: "...The eventual availability of new passport "substitutes," like the PASS card, public comment for which was announced in November, was referenced in a February 2007 DHS press release on proposed teen passport regulations; DHS says the US Department of State will '...soon issue final regulations...'" (Read more...)

See comments submitted to the US guv regarding the PASS card

"High-Tech" Driver's Licenses

High tech driver's licenses are now available (or go into production May 29) to US residents of New York, Washington (State), Michigan and Vermont. From the guv: "This driver’s license or identification document that denotes identity and citizenship. It is specifically designed for cross-border travel into the U.S. by land or sea."

Archived news:

Potential legislation is afoot in the US House of Representatives which will force US guv officials to rethink the ramming through of new Canadian-Mexico land travel passport rules between now and June 1, 2009 without audited consideration of a high-tech driver's license pilot project. Congress chose the 2009 deadline in May, 2006 (and verified that in January, 2007) in order to provide US guv departments, like Homeland Security, some room in which to come up with viable and less expensive passport options; sounds like the apparently pending introduction of a bill from New York Representative Louise Slaughter will force those officials to do just that.

Legislation dictates that the deadline by which passports must be shown at US land borders is June 1, 2009. (The Department of State had been indicating it might try to enforce a land travel/passport rule by early January, 2008 -- that's no longer happening.)

Suspicions that the Department of State and Homeland Security might not use the time granted by Congress to come up with a less expensive and practical alternative to passports, including the PASS passport card, may be shared by those backing Slaughter's bill, which will, according to reports, require those departments to evaluate alternative ID pilot projects like an enhanced driver's license for Canadians and Americans, report back to Congress and submit that report to the Government Accountability Office for auditing. U.S. officials would also be forced to make a cost-benefit analyzation of land-travel passport requirements and an alternative high-tech ID card.

The Canadian Press, which is calling the ID alternatives "Passport Lite," reports that Slaughter's bill, which would set "Passport Lite" costs at $20 and make the ID available within ten days of application, would also exempt those under 17 from passport requirements.

Student travel trade organizations and players have long lobbied for an alternative to passport-only travel between Canada and the US, predicting subsequent tourism industry economic difficulty and a drastic drop in cross-border student travel; Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy last year called passport legislation implementation a "train wreck" in the making. The National Tour Association, which has a membership comprised largely of tour operators, previously informed the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security that "...a passport-only (border crossing) requirement would severely limit student travel." Slaughter is quoted by the Canadian National Post as saying that the US administration is pursuing passport plans that "...will be economically disastrous for both the United States and Canada."

Please go on to the next page for passport rule changes and passport legislation.

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