Life of a US Passport Card

We are planning to drive to Canada in August for a week and then return. Our son (under age 16) was issued a US Passport card in Dec 2015. By August 2019, his US Passport card will have 4 months life left. I understand a US Passport may not be accepted by other countries with six months of life left. HOWEVER! I also understand these passport cards are more for the US border guard than the Canadian border guard. So, is it a problem that his passport card is four months from expiration?

Googling around, the emphasis is all on passport books. But, what’s the factual Dope on US passport cards?

According to this, he may not need a passport or passport card at all, particularly if he is under 16.

Bolding mine.

You need to prove citizenship, and prove identity. A birth certificate will prove citizenship, and a photo ID will provide proof of identity. A passport provides both, but you can provide it in separate documents.

The State Department says the only restriction Canada imposes on US passports is that if you’re transiting through en route to a Schengen country in Europe, you must have three months of validity. Other than that circumstance, it only needs to be valid when you enter the country.

I appreciate the feedback, and your posts confirm my knowledge on entry by car to Canada. However, the crux of the question (perhaps lost in the OP), is about gaining entry BACK into the US itself. Is it going to be a hassle having a US passport card four months from expiration?

Duckster, thanks for your thoughts (above) but August is next month, which will be just four months from December when his card expires.

Just found this…
I should call and ask the National Passport Information Center (which is available to answer your passport questions), per their website - part of the US State Dept’s website on travel. I’ll post the number here for the convenience of others.

The National Passport Information Center
Phone: 1-877-487-2778/ 1-888-874-7793 (TDD/TTY)
• Customer service representatives are available:
Monday- Friday 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
*Except on Federal Holidays
Automated passport information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Se habla español.

Or, Email:
Most email inquiries are answered within 24 hours.
Please call for the status of your passport. We cannot email that information.
Do not email for travel emergencies. Contact us by phone only.

A sign of the times I guess, but I find it extraordinary that anyone would be concerned about returning to their own country with a valid proof of identity, however long it has to run.

The six-month rule is there to stop people from finding themselves without a valid passport when they are in a foreign country. Few, if any, countries require their own citizens to even have a passport, let alone carry one.

As I understand it, someone entering the UK with an expired UK passport should have few problems so long as it was valid when they left the country, and the photo still matched.

It doesn’t matter if your passport card expires tomorrow. If you are returning to the US today, it is still valid. I’m not sure why you would think otherwise. The “6 month rule” is for leaving the country by air, and that is just to ensure it does not expire before you return.

No one will check the card when he leaves. Canada will check when he enters, and the US will check when he returns. Both times, it will be prior to expiration. He’s good.

The six months validity is not required by the US - it would make no sense for the US to refuse to allow you to enter if you only have four months left on your passport. It would be making the effective expiration date six months earlier than the official one. It’s the other countries that have that requirement* - and the reasons airlines won’t let your board with less than 6 months is because they will be responsible for transporting you back to the US if you are denied entry to the other country.

  • Possibly because of their own visa/entry requirements. I went to Israel planning to stay for a week - but I was given a stay permit that allowed me to stay for three months. Obviously, if they’re giving me a permit to stay for three months, they’re going to require that my passport has at least that much validity left.

As I’ve pointed out, he doesn’t need a passport or passport card at all to re-enter the US, only a birth certificate and picture ID. But as others have said, a passport card will be sufficient regardless of how close it is to expiration.

I took a train from Seattle to Vancouver five years ago and they asked for my passport, both in and out.

So? The question is whether you would have been admitted if you just had a birth certificate and photo ID, not whether they ask for a passport. They will ask for a passport by default, but that doesn’t mean entry will be refused if you can produce other evidence of citizenship and identity.