Passports are the most important document for international travel, and the United States government offers several types of passports depending on your needs. Applying for a passport can take up to six weeks, so it’s important to know what type of passport you need and plans ahead. You can also track the progress of your application on the U.S. Department of State’s website.
If you plan to travel outside the United States, you will need one of the following passports: a regular passport book, passport card, diplomatic passport, or official passport. Read on to understand the differences between these types of passports.
1) Regular Passport
Every US citizen is eligible to apply for a regular passport. It is a document issued by the US State Department proving your identity and nationality when traveling abroad. This type of passport has 32 pages and is valid for ten years from the date of issue.
A regular passport is also called a “traditional” passport and is the most commonly used type. It is issued to people who are citizens of the US, and it is also suitable for most international travel.
Some requirements to apply for a regular passport include providing proof of US citizenship, two recent photos of yourself, and paying the applicable fee.
2) Limited Validity Passport
This type of passport is similar to the traditional one but has some restrictions. It is issued only for humanitarian travel or the repatriation of an American citizen abroad. The duration of this type of passport is usually shorter than that of the regular passport, and it may include certain travel restrictions.
Some benefits of Limited Validity Passports are that they are often issued with no fee and can be obtained quickly, making them an ideal choice for those needing to travel in a hurry.
3) Official Passport
Officials traveling overseas on behalf of the United States government are issued an official passport. This type of passport is only valid for their mission and must be returned to the Department of State once they have completed their assignment. Official passports are identified by a blue cover and red letters that spell out “Official Passport.”
Applicants should apply for an official passport through their government agency and submit a valid passport application, two identical photographs, and proof of identity.
4) Diplomatic Passport
People with diplomatic status traveling abroad on behalf of the United States are issued a diplomatic passport. This type of passport is identified by its black cover and gold letters that spell out “United States of America.” This passport is only issued to employees of the U.S. government who are traveling for official government business or working for an international organization. Diplomatic passports include visas that allow entry into certain foreign countries and other privileges not offered to regular citizens.
5) Passport Card
A passport card is a small wallet-sized card that serves as a limited-use passport. It is only valid for land and sea travel between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region. Passport cards are convenient for those who frequently cross US borders with their vehicles and do not need to fly internationally.