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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:
- Valid Passport
- Passport Card
- Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) Card (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry, or FAST)
- Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL)
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
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
Acceptable Forms of ID Domestic US Cruises*
U.S. passport book or card
Original valid U.S. Passport
Sailing from/to: Port Canaveral, Miami, Galveston, San Diego, San Juan, New Orleans and New York
Passport (recommended travel document) (valid for travel by air, land and sea)
A valid passport that expires at least 6 months after your cruise departure.
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
Original certificate of U.S. naturalization
Passport Book: Recommended travel document
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.
I’ve been on several cruises, but I still found this post to be informative. It’s always good to review the necessary documents and make sure you have everything in order before your trip.
The tips on getting a passport photo and submitting the passport application early are great. It’s something that many people overlook, but can save you a lot of stress and hassle.
Do I need to bring my driver’s license on a cruise?
Yes, it’s always a good idea to bring your driver’s license or another form of government-issued identification in case it’s needed for any reason.