Places to go without a passport

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Thu Nov 8 2018

US citizens can travel anywhere in the continental United States without a passport; though airlines and bus companies do require state-issued IDs, there’s nothing legally stopping someone from physically walking from coast to coast with no passport or ID if they so desire. Even states only accessible by plane or boat like Hawaii or as far away as Alaska are available to Americans without a passport, but are there any other destinations we can reach without a passport book or card?


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US Territories

Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands… all are remnants of the US during its imperial days. While Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are close enough to the rest of the country to (almost) be considered states, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands are so far across the Pacific Ocean traveling there feels like you should carry a passport book.

Technically, any US citizen can fly into one of these territories without a passport and gain entry with only a photo ID. However, because they are so far from the continental United States and weather conditions and airlines can force a landing onto foreign soil, it’s generally advisable not to set out on such a trip without a passport book in hand.

Caribbean Islands, Mexico

Some islands in the Caribbean are US territories like the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Naturally, no passport is required for entry by US citizens. However, what about island nations like Cuba, Trinidad, the Caymans, Aruba…? Visas might not be required for all of them, but surely passports are, right?

Well, not necessarily. US citizens flying into any country on the planet are required to carry a valid passport book, but there are different rules for those countries accessible by land or sea. For example, if you’re taking a bus or train into Canada or Mexico, you can get by with just a passport card.

By the same token, cruise ships departing from and returning to the US, i.e. closed-loop routes, do not always require its passengers to carry a passport to disembark in a foreign country for a scheduled stop. US citizens with passage booked on cruises departing from Florida can legally enter a port like Cozumel without a passport, provided they return to the ship before the scheduled departure; anyone who remains would be in Mexico illegally, though considerations are made for medical emergencies and the like.

Should you bring a passport to these areas anyway?

If you’re a US citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident of the US, it’s generally a good idea to travel with some kind of internationally accepted identification when leaving the continental United States. Though US territories and some cruise routes do not require a passport book nor card for travel, the rest of the world does. When traveling by sea or air, don’t forget many nations require at least 1-2 blank pages and six months’ validity for your passport book to get stamped on arrival.

In addition, in the event of a natural disaster like a hurricane or typhoon, having a passport book can give you more options for an emergency evacuation. If you’re only holding a driver’s license, you have no choice but to return to the continental United States, while someone with a passport book may be more open to having a stopover in China or receiving treatment in the Philippines.

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Even though you may not need a passport when you start your journey, what if your plans change, or the airline or weather changes them for you?  An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure. Getting your passport documents prepared in advance of your trip will help you focus on enjoying travel rather than trying to contact an embassy or consulate abroad.

We at Travel Visa Pro understand that even the most experienced travelers can encounter unexpected emergencies or have questions about their journeys. This is why we work hard to lighten your load as you navigate the complexities of international travel.

Do you have any questions about traveling without a passport?