do you need a passport to visit US territories

Do You Need a Passport to Visit U.S.Territories?

In June 13, 2017

Are you getting ready to book a much needed summer vacation? What about a business trip overseas? When it comes to passports and travel visas, the ins and outs of documentation can be confusing and hard to get straight. What countries can you travel to without a visa? Do you need a passport to board domestic flights? Do you need a passport to visit U.S. territories? What kind of passport will you need? If you’ve never flown internationally, finding the answers to these questions can seem overwhelming. An added point to consider is your destination; are you planning on traveling to a U.S. territory or any of the Freely Associated States? If the answer is yes, knowing which locations require a passport is important when preparing for your trip.

Passport for U.S. Territories

Do you need a passport to visit U.S. territories like Puerto Rico? You don’t if you’d like to visit the coast at Paseo de la Princesa in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

 

What is the difference between a U.S. Territory and a Freely Associated State?

When the United States of America was young and growing, it gained or acquired territories that, as it grew and evolved, became incorporated states. These states were then governed by the United States government. Throughout history, new territories were created and were simply directly overseen by the U.S. government. As the U.S. grew and changed, some of these territories attained statehood, becoming one of the 50 states, while others territories split off and became their own independent countries. However, some territories gained their independence through the Compact of Free Association (COFA). This allows the United States federal government full authority over their defense and aid in exchange for certain U.S. benefits. Some of these benefits include U.S. healthcare, labor and employment opportunities and many government services. There are currently 16 U.S territories.

 

Below are the current U.S. territories:

  1. American Samoa
  2. Baker Island
  3. Howland Island
  4. Guam
  5. Jarvis Island
  6. Johnston Atoll
  7. Kingman Reef
  8. Midway Islands
  9. Navassa Island
  10. Northern Mariana Islands
  11. Palmyra Atoll
  12. Puerto Rico
  13. Serranilla Bank
  14. U.S. Virgin Islands
  15. Wake Island

Below are the current Free Associated states:

  1. Federated States of Micronesia
  2. Marshall Islands
  3. Palau
Do you need a passport to visit U.S. territories like Guam

Interested in seeing Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad in Umatac, Guam Island, USA? Find out if you’ll need a passport to travel to this destination.

 

A Free Associated State is a nation that is completely independent but has a special relationship with the United States. There are currently three of these Free Associated States: The Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau. Free Associated States utilize American currency and receive some financial support and the promise of U.S. military defense in exchange for not allowing military access by any other nation. These nation’s citizens are also allowed to work in the U.S., and join the U.S. military. The three states each have different agreement terms, and these terms are re-negotiated about every 15 years.

Do You Need a Passport to Visit U.S. Territories and Free Associated States?

If your upcoming trip’s destination is a U.S. territory, you’ll need to know what kind of documentation they’ll require for entry. Some U.S. territories like the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, do not require a passport, but require a certified copy of your birth certificate and a government issued ID instead. If you’re planning on traveling to Guam or American Samoa, you will definitely need an American passport. If you’re traveling to any of the Freely Associated States, they are considered foreign countries and all U.S. citizens are required to have a passport upon entry. Regardless of where you’re traveling, ensure you have the proper identification documents on hand when leaving the country. As always, we wish you safe travels!

4 Comments

  1. Hi, what if one has a foreign passport, and wants to board a plane in U.S. territory? Can someone with a Mexican passport get on a plane in continental U.S.?

    1. Hello Sofia. Thanks for your question. While there are always exceptions to every rule, in general if you have a valid passport (whether it is from the U.S. or not) you should be able to use it to board a plane in the continental United States.

  2. Can you enter a US possession, such as Guam, on a US passport from a foreign country, right up until the
    expiration date of the passport? American citizens can return to the US right up until the expire date and the info
    I got for Puerto Rico said it was so there also.

    1. According to the Guam Visitor’s Bureau web page: “Entry requirements for Guam are the same as for any U.S. destination.” Therefore, it seems more than likely you would be able to enter Guam with a U.S. passport that is about to expire. You may want to contact the U.S. State Department for verification.

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