Planning for Future Travels When Driving Across the Border

passport card or book options
When travelling by car across the Canadian or Mexican border, the “passport card” is a lower cost option to consider.

Passport Issues to Know About When Driving Across the Border

Now that you’ve purchased a wheelchair van and plan on visiting destinations in Canada or Mexico, you need to prepare ahead of time for obtaining a passport. You can no longer drive across the border with just a state issued license and birth certificate. If you’re thinking about taking a trip, here are a few things to be aware of.

1. A new passport card option, similar to a driver’s license, is now available for driving across the border versus flying. It is a less expensive option if you don’t plan on flying or travelling to other countries in the near future.

2. Getting a new passport book or card can take 4 to 6 weeks, so plan ahead and take the steps necessary to acquire one as soon as possible. If a passport is needed in a hurry (2 to 4 weeks), there are expedited options available for an additional $60 per applicant.

3. Necessary items and information when completing your application:

– Recent driver’s license or government issued ID and Social Security Number
– Certified birth certificate, issued by the city, county or state – not a plain copy
– Both parent’s first, middle and last names (including mother’s maiden name)
– Both parents birth dates and place of birth (city and state)
– Color photo(s) to size, one for passport card only, two for passport book and card

Note: It is recommended that you go to a service outlet for obtaining your passport pictures. Passport photos must be printed on photo quality paper, 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size, so that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. Costs for having passport photos taken at a local pharmacy, portrait photographer or copy/print service provider ranges from $10 to $15.

Applicant Fees

The State Department website lists updated Adult Passport Book and Card options plus the Execution Fee. Go here to learn more about your application options, fees and payment methods.

NOTE: All first time applicants must apply in person at a Passport Agency, Acceptance Facility, U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Examples of passport acceptance facilities may include the Local Post Office or County Library. A passport card is valid for up to 10 years for adults (16 years or older) and 5 years for minors (under age 16).

Traveling With Pets and Other Restrictions

There are some restrictions on what you can take across the border. It’s important to check with each country’s website to see what is allowed and what is not allowed, such as fresh fruit, liquor and firearms. Dogs and cats may be brought to Canada, as long as they are accompanied by a veterinarian-signed document that indicates the animal’s breed and physical description — as well as proof they are up to date with their rabies shots. Dog or cat food containing beef or lamb byproducts, however, are not allowed.

Accessible Travel Made Easier

There are plenty of websites on the internet for finding information about accessible vacations and recommended destinations for people in wheelchairs. There’s even a few apps being  developed to assist with finding accessible bathrooms.

Planning ahead and preparing for your next road trip adventure can avoid disappointing delays. Getting your passport book, passport card (or both) as early as possible will help to make planning for the rest of your vacation as stress free as possible.