Do I Need a Passport to Cruise?

Did you know that American citizens make up the vast majority of cruise passengers? It doesn’t come as much surprise to those who love taking cruise vacations, but for newcomers it may. Cruising is so popular because it allows for people to visit top destinations while being served in an almost all-inclusive setting with endless entertainment. If you are new to cruise vacations, you may be wondering if you need a passport for your trip, even if you are staying in US territories. More often than not, it is highly recommended or even required to bring a passport in order to board and enjoy your cruise. Be sure to check with your cruise line early to ensure you know the proper regulations.

I am traveling on a closed loop cruise. Do I need a passport? A closed loop cruise is a cruise that departs and returns to the same U.S. port. If your cruise does not leave the Western Hemisphere and travels to U.S. territories only, you can generally use a government-issued photo ID (such as a valid driver’s license) instead of a passport to travel.

My closed loop cruise goes to non-U.S. territories; can I still use only my photo ID? In order to enter any foreign country, and/or return to a U.S. port from a foreign country, you will need a passport. Cruises that take port at any foreign destination will often require you have a passport to even board or register on the ship.

My cruise goes to the Caribbean. Can I use a passport card? Yes, a current and valid passport card can be used if your cruise is going to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda. Other international destinations would require a passport book rather than a passport card.

Does my child need a passport to cruise? According to the U.S. Department of State (, every minor regardless of age traveling overseas must have a valid passport.

Should I get a passport for my cruise just to be safe? Yes! It is recommended by the U.S. government, and most cruise lines, that passengers travel with a valid U.S. passport on their cruise vacation.

Need help getting your vital records so you can obtain a passport? Contact VitalChek to get a government certified copy of your personal birth certificate. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to apply for your passport prior to the date of your cruise! To learn more about obtaining a passport you can read more information here.

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