What's a passport card, and can it replace a Real ID?

Michael Finney Image
Saturday, February 15, 2020
What's a passport card, and can it replace a Real ID?
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If you're not inclined to take the time to get a Real ID, here's a lesser-known alternative.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Here's why I don't have a Real ID California Driver's license: long lines at the DMV. Now, just like you, I have been told for a couple years that I need a Real ID driver's license or I won't be able to fly domestically once the Real ID Program kicks in on October first. But is that really the case?

Turns out you don't need a Real ID Driver's license if you have the right documentation, starting with a passport.

"I am not personally recommending that people bring their passport to the TSA checkpoint for domestic flights," says TSA's Lorie Dankers. "The risk of losing or damaging your passport is too great."

VIDEO: Here's what other IDs you can use to fly if you don't have a Real ID.

Dankers says a passport card is often a better way to go.

A passport card is the same size as a driver's license, so it can easy slide into your wallet. It is a sort of... "passport lite."

Jared Tharp is with Passport Services at the US Department of State. He says the passport card is easy to carry and gets you on domestic flights and more.

"The use for a card is generally for land and sea travels, so you wouldn't be able to board an international flight using a passport card," Tharp tells me. "A passport book would be good for everything."

The price is right, too; way cheaper than a regular passport.

"If we are talking about a passport book generally for an adult, the books costs $110," he says. "If you are talking about a card for an adult the cost is $30."

VIDEO: Here's how you can tell whether or not your driver's license is a Real ID.

For adults the card is good for 10 years, just like a passport book.

Dankers says, "I am so glad you are bringing attention to this, because I think, when people know they have options, it is not just one thing its multiple possibilities, knowing that it gives you the ability to do the best for you."

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.