UPDATED INFORMATION as of June 1, 2009:
A passport, a passport card, a NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST enrollment card, or an enhanced driver’s license is required to travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean by land or by sea.
However, if you are on a closed-loop cruise to any of the above destinations, one that begins and ends at the same US port, you do not have to carry a passport and can use your driver’s license and birth certificate instead.
Also, children under the age of 16 can travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean by land or sea using only a birth certificate.
Passports are still required for any air travel out of the country (with certain exceptions for NEXUS card holders), and you may wish to carry one even for closed-loop cruises in case you miss the boat and need to fly to the next port, or in case you need fly home for an emergency.
Cruises that involve foreign countries other than Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean require a passport book.
Are you considering taking off on a cruise to the Caribbean for some fun in the sun? How about sailing to Mexico or Canada? Starting June 1, new passport regulations go into effect, and you may need to pack your passport.
What are the new passport requirements for cruises? Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, starting June 1 passengers on cruises that go outside the US will need a passport to re-enter the country. There are two exceptions:
- Passengers on “closed-loop” cruises, cruises that begin and end in the same US port, can still get back in by presenting a birth certificate and a government-issued photo ID. However, you should consider traveling with a passport anyway. See Why You Should Consider Getting a Passport for a Closed-Loop Cruise
- Children under the age of 16 going on a cruise can present a birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization, or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
However, that’s just for re-entry into the United States. You may still be required to flash your passport if your ship is going to dock at a foreign port. The best way to find out if you need a passport for your cruise is to double-check with the cruise line.
For more information about passport requirements for different countries, see:
Do you need to a passport to go on a cruise? The simplest and fastest way to get one is to use a private expediting company. That way, you’ll have professional help with all the paperwork, and your application will go to the “top of the stack” once it’s delivered for processing. With an expediting service, you can have your new passport in as little as 24 hours, depending on the processing option you choose.
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