Travel Documents: What you need to cruise

Travel Documents: Never Miss A Trip Due To Wrong Documents

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Knowing what travel documents you need when traveling outside the US can be daunting, and the requirements can sometimes be hard to understand and navigate. In addition, not knowing the airlines and cruises’ requirements could leave you stranded. That is to say, trouble could happen if you’re not aware of what you need to have with you to gain entry.

Traveling to and from the US isn’t as simple as hopping on and off a plane. For instance, the US government has specific requirements for travel documents that allow US citizens to come and go. If you’re planning to travel, you must take the proper documentation as you pass through airports, harbors, and bus stations.

What are travel documents?

According to Wikipedia: “A travel document is an identity document issued by a government or international entity under international agreements to enable individuals to clear border control measures.”

A travel document is your identification that governments, such as the US, provide to citizens so they can cross international borders. The US government issues many different travel documents; for example, the type of travel document you need depends on your immigration status and the purpose of your trip.

Why do you need documents to travel?


The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires all travelers to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda to present a valid passport or other approved document that establishes the bearer’s identity and citizenship to enter or reenter the United States.

Your travel documents are essentially a permit to travel the world. That is to say, without the correct ID, your trip outside the US can become a nightmare. The first thing to remember is that you always want to carry the proper documents for your trip to avoid disastrous consequences.

There are many stories of travelers not gaining entry to cruises and ports of call due to not being aware of the required travel documents they need to have with them.

You are required to show valid documents to gain entry into the US. The documents you need depend on the country you are arriving from and your citizenship status.

What travel documents do I need?

US citizens entering the United States must have one of the following types of travel documents to enter:

On a closed-loop cruise (for example, departing and arriving at the same port), you can show a birth certificate and a government ID. However, if you have to fly home before you get back to port, you won’t be able to without a passport.

Note: You may still be required to show a passport to enter the countries your ship is visiting. If this applies to you, check with your cruise line to find out which travel documents to prepare for your visits to these countries.

COVID-19 Vaccination Records

Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card - A New Travel Document You Will Need.

A Covid-19 vaccination record card. Credit: Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle, via Associated Press

The pandemic brought us a new form of travel document that may impact your next cruise. Most cruise lines require guests get vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus. As a result, you must prove that your vaccination status is up-to-date.

Most cruise lines require that you show the card you were issued when you received your initial vaccine and then boosters as proof of vaccination.

Please check with your cruise line for what they will accept as proof. Some require a physical card, while others, such as Royal Caribbean, will work with guests who only have a digital copy of their vaccination card.

Therefore, our recommendation is to pack your physical card. As a result, you will have a smooth cruise.

In conclusion, before you embark on your cruise, ensure that you have the proper essential travel documents covid-19 for your trip.

Cruise Lines Documents Requirements

Cruise Line

Acceptable Forms of ID Domestic US Cruises*

Website Link

U.S. Passport
Passport Card
State Enhanced Driver's License
Certificate of U.S. Naturalization
Native American Indians

For cruises that begin and end in a US port- US citizens can show proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate issued by a government agency and accompanied by government-issued photo identification.

U.S. passport book or card
Trusted Traveler card (Nexus, SENTRI, FAST)
Enhanced Driver’s License

For voyages that begin and end in the same U.S. Port, U.S. citizens may travel with both a Government-issued birth certificate** and Government-issued picture ID card, such as a driver's license.

Original valid U.S. Passport
Original valid U.S. Passport Card
Original valid Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, FAST)

Sailing from/to: Port Canaveral, Miami, Galveston, San Diego, San Juan, New Orleans and New York
The following guide: Original or copy of their state-issued birth certificate AND Government-issued photo ID

Passport (recommended travel document) (valid for travel by air, land and sea)
Passport Card (valid for land and sea border crossings only)
State Issued Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) – (valid for land and sea border crossings only, not valid on Yukon Cruisetours due to air travel included in the Journey)
Other documents approved by the Department of Homeland Security

U.S. citizens on cruises in the Western Hemisphere that originate and terminate in the same U.S. port are required to have proof of citizenship such as a valid U.S. passport or a government issued birth certificate combined with a government issued photo I.D.

A valid passport that expires at least 6 months after your cruise departure.

United States citizens on cruises that begin and end at the same port in the United States can use a original government-issued picture ID (i.e. driver's license) AND an original government-issued birth certificate or original Naturalization Certificate.

For Cruises Leaving From a U.S. Port to the Caribbean, Bahamas & Florida, Bermuda, Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Canada & New England, Pacific Coastal

A Valid Passport


Proof of Citizenship (see below) AND Government-issued photo ID

State certified U.S. birth certificate
(Baptismal paper, hospital certificates of birth, and Puerto Rico birth certificates issued prior to 7/1/10 are not acceptable.)

Original certificate of U.S. naturalization
Original certificate of U.S. citizenship
U.S. Consular report of your birth abroad

Passport Book: Recommended travel document
US Passport Card
US or Canadian Issued Enhanced Driver's License (EDL)
US or Canadian Issued Identification Card (issued to minors and non-drivers)
NEXUS Card Air travel is limited to participating airports
SENTRI and FAST cards
I-872 American Indian Card or Enhanced Tribal ID Card (ETC)

US citizens traveling on U.S. roundtrip or “closed-loop” voyages may also travel with an original certified US birth certificate presented together with a valid US government-issued photo identification. 

U.S. Citizens may sail using their:

Official US Birth Certificate and a supporting Government Issued Photo ID, like a driver’s license or an identity card. Please note that hospital Birth Certificates (baby feet Birth Certificates) are not accepted.


U.S. Passport book that is valid at least 6 months after your cruise. 

*Disclaimer: The information in this article is primarily for US citizens from the cruise line websites listed above at the time of this writing. Please consult your local authorities and the cruise line you are traveling on for the most up-to-date travel document requirements.

Cruising Know It All
Cruising Know It All
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