New passport cards available

A State Department official was in San Diego on Thursday to urge international travelers to obtain the new passport card.

The wallet-sized card can be used to reenter the country at land border crossings and sea ports of entry from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda, according to the State Department.

Touting the benefits of the card at an afternoon news conference at the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Building was Howard Josephs, a customer service manager at the Los Angeles Passport Agency.

According to the State Department, the card is more convenient and less expensive than a traditional passport book, but it cannot be used for international air travel.

So far, the State Department has issued more than 700,000 of the cards.

The card costs $45 for a first-time adult passport applicant and $35 for those under 16. Adults who already have a fully valid passport book may apply for the card for $20.

It takes about three weeks to process applications.

Beginning June 1, U.S. citizens will need to show a passport or passport card denoting both citizenship and identity when entering the country by land or sea from Mexico and Canada. Passengers arriving in the U.S. by air from those countries are already required to show a passport.

   
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