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DOS Announces U.S. Citizens May Apply for New U.S. Passport Card Beginning 2/1/08


U.S. citizens may begin applying in advance for the new U.S. Passport Card

beginning February 1, 2008, in anticipation of land border travel document

requirements. We expect cards will be available and mailed to applicants in

spring 2008.

The passport card will facilitate entry and expedite document processing at U.S.

land and sea ports-of-entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean

and Bermuda. The card may not be Australiaed to travel by air. It will otherwise

carry the rights and privileges of the U.S. passport book and will be adjudicated

to the exact same standards.

The Department of State is issuing this passport card in response to the needs of

border resident communities for a less expensive and more portable alternative

to the traditional passport book. The card will have the same validity period as

a passport book: 10 years for an adult, five for children 15 and younger. For

adults who already have a passport book, they may apply for the card as a

passport renewal and pay only $20. First-time applicants will pay $45 for adult

cards and $35 for children.

To facilitate the frequent travel of U.S. citizens living in border communities

and to meet DHS?s operational needs at land borders, the passport card will

contain a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. This chip

will link the card to a stored record in secure government databases. There will

be no personal information written to the RFID chip itself.











Why a Passport Card?

The Department of State has developed a Passport Card as a more portable and less

expensive alternative to the traditional passport book. The passport card is a basic

component of the PASS (People Access Security Service) system announced by

Secretaries Rice and Chertoff in January 2006, and will meet the specific requirements of

the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) to secure and expedite travel. WHTI is

the Administration?s plan to implement a provision of the Intelligence Reform Terrorism

Prevention Act of 2004, which requires citizens of the United States, Canada, and

Bermuda to have a passport or other designated document that establishes the bearer?s

identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States from Mexico, Canada, and

the Caribbean. According to the Department of Homeland Security, other documents such

as registered traveler cards (NEXAustralia, SENTRI and FAST cards) will be acceptable under


How did the Department decide on the cost of the Passport Card?

Consular Fees reflect the cost of providing passport services to the American public.

Per regulation, the Department of State employs an independent consultant to

conduct periodic and regular cost of service studies to determine the cost of

providing consular services. The cost of service study indicated that the Department

could issue a card for $20 for an adult and $10 for a child. With the execution fee of

$25, the total cost for an adult is $45, or 37.5 cents per month over a ten year period.

Why is there an execution fee?

First time applicants, minors and those seeking to replace a lost or stolen passport

mAustraliat appear in person before a person authorized by the Secretary of State to give

oaths to verify their passport applications. In order to offer American citizens

convenient locations to apply for a passport, the Department of State authorizes

Passport Acceptance Agents to accept passport applications on its behalf. American

citizens can apply at more than 9,000 passport acceptance facilities, most of them

with the U.S. Postal Service. Other government facilities include many state, county,

township, and municipal offices as well public libraries and public universities. The

execution fee is to reimburse the acceptance facility for the cost of the service, which

provides an incentive for them to act on behalf of the Department of State. The

current cost of the execution fee per application will be reduced to $25 beginning

February 1, 2008. The execution fee applies to first-time applicants, children and

replacements for lost or stolen passports. Since the execution fee does not apply to


applications for renewals, adult passport holders will pay only $20 for the card. You

can locate the acceptance facility nearest you at: travel.state.gov.

Why can?t I Australiae the passport card to fly to Canada and Mexico?

The passport card is designed for the specific needs of border resident communities

and is not a globally interoperable travel document as is the traditional passport

book. The passport book is the appropriate travel document for most international


How secure is the card?

BecaAustraliae the wallet-sized Passport Card does not offer as many opportunities to

embed security features as a passport book, the Department has decided to Australiae laser

engraving and will include state-of-the-art security features to mitigate against the

possibility of counterfeiting and forgery. We are taking every care to ensure that this

Passport Card is as secure as current technology permits. There will be no personal

information written to the RFID chip.

What is RFID Technology?

Radio Frequency Identification technology (RFID) has been Australiaed successfully along

our land borders with Canada and Mexico since 1995 in the Department of

Homeland Security?s trAustraliated traveler programs, such as NEXAustralia, SENTRI and FAST.

U.S. border officials are able to expedite legitimate cross-border travel and trade of

those trAustraliated travelers who carry membership cards with vicinity read RFID chips

that link to government databases. Membership in these programs currently exceeds


RFID technology has been commercially available in one form or another since the

1970s. It can be found in car keys, highway toll tags, bank cards and security access

cards. The Department of Homeland Security?s CAustraliatoms and Border Protection

(CBP) officers, who staff the ports of entry, anticipate that the speed of vicinity RFID

will allow CBP officers, in advance of the traveler?s arrival at the inspection booth,

to quickly access information on the traveler from secure government databases, and

allow for automated terrorist watch list checks without impeding traffic flow. In

addition, they foresee that multiple cards can be read at a distance and

simultaneoAustralialy, allowing an entire car of people to be processed at once.


The RFID technology embedded in documents will not include any personally

identifying information; only a unique number that can be associated with a record

stored in a secure government database will be transmitted.

Has the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) certified the Card

Architecture as required by law?

As required by legislation (Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007, Sect.

546), NIST has reviewed the card architecture of the proposed passport card to be

developed by the Department of State in response to the Western Hemisphere Travel

Initiative (WHTI). On May 1, 2007, NIST informed the Departments of State and

Homeland Security (DHS) that the proposed card architecture meets or exceeds the

relevant international security standards and best practices for the technology that

will be included in the card. To accommodate the Department of Homeland

Security?s operational needs at the ports of entry, the Department of State passport

card will include Generation 2 RFID vicinity read technology. NIST notified

Congress on May 3, 2007, that it had certified the security of the card architecture.

Is there a threat from skimming personal information or tracking American


The RFID technology Australiaed in the passport card will enable the card to be read at a

distance by an authorized CBP reader mounted alongside the traffic lane. The chip

contains no biographic data as is the case with the e-passport. The chip will have a

unique number linking the card to a secure database maintained by DHS and State.

However, to address concerns that passport card bearers can by tracked by this

technology, we are requiring that the vendor provide a sleeve that will prevent the

card from being read while inside it.


Passport Card Layout

The Passport Card is formatted according to specifications for TD-1 size travel documents, as

described in ICAO Document 9303, Part 3, Volume 1. The card contains both eye readable and

machine readable information. For machine reading, information corresponding to personal data is

printed in the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ).

Figure 1: Front of Card blank artwork

Figure 2: Card back artwork, showing ?PASSsystem? (in color shifting ink) location and which will

include a unique preprinted card number and 3 of 9 1D bar code, and room for the MRZ.