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State Dept. will be printing many thousands of new Passport and Border Crossing Cards

U.S. Border Crossing Card

The U.S. State Department wants to gather technical and capabilities information from prospective vendors that can provide the hardware, equipment, maintenance and, possibly, the printing of many thousands of credit-card-sized Passport Cards and Border Crossing Cards that can be used as alternatives to traditional book-style U.S. passports.

These cards have been used at land and sea-ports of entry into the United States since 2009, according to a special notice published by the State Department’s office of consular systems and technology services on May 8.

The notice was for a “full and open” request for information (RFI), says the notice, and does not commit the State Department to any specific future procurement.

“The Passport Card is functional in the DHS ReadyLane system, an integrated, automated border-crossing identification system including programs such as NEXUS, Secure Electronic Network for Travelers’ Rapid Inspection (SENTRI), and Free and Secure Trade Program (FAST,” says the notice.

The State Department issues Border Crossing Cards to some qualified citizens of Mexico. “The BCC allows them to enter defined border zones in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas for business and pleasure,” explains the notice. “When presented together with a valid Mexican passport, the BCC allows the holder to travel for business or pleasure anywhere in the United States.”

The State Department did not make clear how many of these cards it intends to print in the foreseeable future. However, it did include a few sentences that might tantalize prospective vendors looking for new markets.

“Additionally, the Department may use the existing support infrastructure, such as printers and readers, to create additional types of travel cards,” said the notice. “These travel cards would be functionally similar to the Passport Card but would be used to denote other travel privileges.” It is conceivable that the State Department is entertaining a new requirement for travel cards of one kind or another for some or all of the 11 million “illegal aliens” currently residing in the United States, though the recent notice made no specific reference to this possibility.

Interested vendors have until June 3 to submit their capabilities information. Further information is available from Adrienne Bell at 703-516-1667 or bellam@state.gov.