Passport for a Cruise

passport-deskAre passports required for a cruise? Cruises continue to increase in popularity and yet many people wonder about travel requirements for a vacation of this type. What documents are needed when you go on a cruise? This is of concern to many who worry that a family emergency may arise and they will need to return home quickly, but can’t do so without the necessary documents. Don’t let questions such as this prevent you from taking your dream vacation. The first question that needs to be answered is, “Do you need a passport for a cruise?” The answer to this question depends on many factors.

Do I Need a Passport to Go on a Cruise?

United States citizens and nationals must carry a passport when traveling the world. The exception to this is those cruises which will be staying in United States waters for the entire trip. An example of this is a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands. Those who will be boarding from a cruise ship at a United States port after being on an international cruise must show either a citizenship document or a valid passport from the United States.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Federal Law


On June 1, 2009, a law known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was enacted. This law states that citizens and permanent residents of the United States returning from Mexico, Bermuda, the Caribbean or Canada must present an approved travel document when reentering the country by either air or sea. Valid documents include:

  • United States passport
  • United States passport card
  • Trusted traveler program card
  • Enhanced driver’s license

Please visit:  for updated passport information.

Closed Loop Cruises

On a closed cruise loop, one that begins and ends at the same United States port, a United States citizen can enter and leave the country with proof of citizenship. For most, this will be a birth certificate issued by the government and a laminated picture ID issued by the government. The ID must show the name and date of birth along with a government issued photo such as a drivers license. Citizens under the age of 16 may produce one of the following documents instead.

  • An original birth certificate or a certified or notarized copy of the document
  • A Certificate of Naturalization issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • A Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State

Be aware that a hospital certificate of birth and baptismal papers along with Social Security cards and voter registration cards are not acceptable documents for proof of citizenship.

United States Permanent Residents

A permanent resident of the United States may use their Department of Homeland Security Alien Registration Card or another document proving permanent resident status when entering the United States. When a permanent resident attempts to reenter the country using an expired Alien Registration Card, he or she may be denied entry. Before traveling, permanent residents need to ensure the card remains in effect until their date of return.

Individual Cruise Requirements

Each cruise passenger needs to check with their cruise line to see if any other citizenship documentation requirements must be met. Most recommend a passport for any travel. This protects the traveler in the event of an emergency.

In the Event of an Emergency

It is recommended that all cruise passengers carry a valid passport book when traveling. In the event an emergency arises, the guest will need this passport to enter the United States. The same is true if a passenger misses his or her ship and becomes stranded or for any other reason. If a cruise passenger finds the need to return home before the end of the cruise, they could encounter complications and significant delays without this passport.

How to Obtain a Passport

The United States State Department issues all passports and passport cards. The process differs from new applicants and those wishing to renew an existing passport. To learn more about these requirements, visit Here you will find the most current information concerning passports and international travel.

A cruise is a wonderful experience and one guests want to be able to look back on with good memories. Carrying a passport helps to guarantee a great trip. As the future cannot be predicted, taking extra precautions is always smart. Having a passport guarantees you are prepared for the unexpected so a minor inconvenience doesn’t become a major problem.

 Be sure to check out “Passport Requirements here:


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