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Do You Need a Passport to Go to the Virgin Islands?


Update: Passport rules for the Virgin Islands have changed. View the latest rules here.

If your spring or summer travel plans include travel to the Virgin Islands, you may be wondering if you need a passport. The answer depends primarily on your itinerary.  First, are going to the US Virgin Islands or the British Virgin Islands?

The US Virgin Islands consist of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. These islands are US territories.  If you travel directly to and from the US Virgin Islands, you do not need a US passport.

However, if you stop by any other countries in the Caribbean along the way, you may or may not need a passport. Here’s the scoop: Before June 1st, 2009, American citizens traveling to the Caribbean by sea can use either a passport or a driver’s license AND a birth certificate (or naturalization certificate) to prove their identity and citizenship when they re-enter the US. However, air travelers must have a US passport.

So, if you’re on a cruise that stops in both the US Virgin Islands and another Caribbean country, you can use your driver’s license and birth certificate. If you are on a flight that has a layover in another Caribbean country on the way to the US Virgin Islands, you need a passport-even if you never set foot outside of the airport.

After June 1st, 2009, sea travelers to other Caribbean countries will need passports, too.

The British Virgin Islands consist of 16 inhabited islands and more than 20 uninhabited islands. The major islands are Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.

The United Kingdom owns these islands.  Like other Caribbean countries, they are covered under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). So, the rules are the same as the rules described above: Before June 1st, 2009, air passengers need passports while sea passengers can use driver’s licenses and birth certificates. After June 1st, 2009 everyone needs a passport.

For more details on changing passport regulations in the Caribbean, see “Do I Need a Passport to go to the Caribbean?”

If you’re planning a trip to the Virgin Islands and you need a passport, it’s important to apply for one as soon as possible, preferably several months in advance. This is especially important this year, as changing travel regulations may cause passport applications to get backed up.

If you don’t have much time before your trip, a passport expediting company can help you cut through the red tape and get your passport processed more quickly. These companies deliver your passport by hand to the US Passport Agency, so they get processed more quickly, even if the US Passport Agency is experiencing longer processing times. Expediting companies offer a variety of options to meet your needs, including same-day processing.

RushMyPassport.com is a leader in the passport expediting industry, and offers a tracking system so that you can watch your order as it moves through the system.  Visit us online, and see how easy it can be to get a passport to the Virgin Islands today!

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30 Responses to “Do You Need a Passport to Go to the Virgin Islands?”

  1. Ana

    My fiance’s passport will expire in a few days and we wanted to know if he can go to any of the U.S Virgin islands with a valid California drivers license and his green card? He is not a U.S Citizen just yet and his foreign passport will be expired by the time we need to go on our trip. Thanks for all the help!

  2. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Ana,

    He should be fine with just his driver’s license and green card as long as he stays in the US Virgin Islands. He would most likely need a passport to go to the British Virgin Islands, though.

  3. Jay

    Do I need a passport to go to the us virgin island. On or by July of 2012?
    Or can I just show my birth us certificate or state lincense?!?

  4. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Jay,

    No, the US Virgin Islands is part of the US, so you don’t need a passport. However, it’s a good idea to bring your US birth certificate along with your driver’s license in order to prove citizenship. Have a great trip!

  5. maria

    Hello my husband and I are planning to go to u virgin islands when I come back from deployment. I was just wondering if I can use my drivers license and military id to travel and his license and dependent card to travel bc my stuff is still getting shipped ie birth certificate and stuff and my passport just expired and he doesn’t have a passport. Planning on flying to st thomas

  6. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Maria,

    St. Thomas is in the US Virgin Islands so you don’t need a passport. You may be asked about your citizenship on the way back in, however, since it is considered a “port of entry.” CBP advises that “it is recommended that travelers bring a government issued photo ID and copy of birth certificate.” So, bring your birth certificates if you can, it will make re-entering the US much easier.

  7. Kim

    Is a Birth Certificate enough? I just turned 18 this year, and my friends are 17 and we don’t have driver licenses? Will we be okay if we visit St. John?

  8. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Kim, you’ll need some sort of photo ID, like a state ID card, to board the plane. However, you don’t need a passport.

  9. erica

    Hey, I wanted to know if I took the plane to st thomas from Miami will I need a passport to take the ferry to tortola? and would a passport card work or would I need a passport book?

  10. Cyndie

    We Are planning a last minute trip to the island of Tortola at the end of July… We don’t have active passports. Can we travel with drivers license and birth certificates?

  11. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Cyndie,

    Tortola is part of the British Virgin Islands. So, only if your last-minute trip is a closed-loop cruise that begins and ends at the same US port. Otherwise, you need a passport. Hope this helps!

  12. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Erica,

    You will need a passport card or a passport book. A passport card should work for the itinerary you’ve described.

  13. Kristina

    Hi Erica, I have a green card and recently applied for US citizenship. My foreign passport has already expired. Can I travel to St. John with only my green card, will I really be cleared at the airport customs? Thank you.

  14. Kristina

    Sorry I meant to say Alison.

  15. Alison Kroulek

    Congrats on applying for US citizenship, Kristina. Yes, your green card should be fine. Have a great trip!

  16. Misty

    When traveling to US Virging Islands, what about the layover in San Juan? Will we require a passport?

  17. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Misty,

    You shouldn’t- San Juan is in Puerto Rico, which is also part of the US. If possible, you should bring your birth certificate with you, though, as you may be asked to show it on the way back from the US Virgin Islands. Enjoy your trip!

  18. Dzana

    Hi, I’m planning a trip to St. Thomas but my twin girls 8month olds do not have a passport. Is it ok for me to book the trip. It would be a direct flight to the virgin islands and back. Me and my husband do have a passport so should i bring their birth cirtificate when traveling ?? Thank you

  19. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Dzana,

    St. Thomas is in the US Virgin Islands, so they won’t need passports. I would bring their birth certificates in case you’re asked about your citizenship during your return flight.

    Have a great trip!

  20. Richard Cole

    Hi Alison: I am wanting to travel to Guam. My itinerary is Houston,TX to Hawaii to Guam to Hawaii to Houston,TX. No outside countries. I cannot obtain a passport because of arrears on child support because of a 3 yr illness that has now disabled me. I love my kids and my kids love me. I don,t need to explain myself to all the “Deadbeat” dad bashers out there. I had an uncle that died there in the retaking of the islands from Japan. Its not right to restrict peoples rights to travel because of a change in a person’s financial status. You know what other countries restrict people from travel. Cuba, North Korea, former Soviet Union, China,Iran Oh and by the way these countries can hold you forever without charging you with anything. Obama just signed an executive order allowing that. At any rate, don,t mean to turn it into a political blog. If I don,t need a passport, should I carry my birth certificate with me. Guam is a US territory. Thanks Alison. Richard

  21. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Richard,

    Guam is a US territory, so as long as you’re flying straight there and straight back (and don’t have to stop in a third country like Japan), you should be fine with state-issued photo ID and a birth certificate for proof of citizenship.

    Have a great trip!

  22. micaela scott

    Me and my classmates where planning a trip to st. thomas and some of my classmates are from other contries but they study in the US. would they be able to us there contries passport and state issued id to come back into the US? i hope i am making sense. HELP

  23. Vanessa

    Do i need a passport to travel to PR,STVI, my passport expired more than 15yrs

  24. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Vanessa,

    Puerto Rico and St Thomas are both US territories, so you do not need a passport as long as you’re traveling straight there and straight back, with no stops in another country. However, you will need ID to fly and it’s recommended to bring your birth certificate in case you are asked for proof of citizenship. Have a great trip!

  25. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Micaela,

    That should be fine, just make sure they also have documentation that shows they have a legal right to be in the US in case anyone questions it. Have a great trip!

  26. Jen

    Hi Alison,
    I was wondering, I am traveling to St Thomas on Saturday October 6th 2012 and I only have my drivers license and an expired passport. I recently moved and cannot find my birth cerfiticate! Do you think I could bring my license and social security card and that will be okay?? Should I even take an expired passport? It expired a few months ago.
    Thanks much!!!

  27. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Jen,

    I would go ahead and bring your expired passport, as long as its undamaged, in case you’re asked to prove your citizenship on the way back in. And get to the airport EARLY for your return flight to the US…you may have to deal with some additional questioning/scrutiny. Have a great trip!

  28. claudia

    My status in the US is Withholding of removal (which is in between political asylum and deportation) so I am legally in the US and I am allowed to work but I cannot get out of the country. I was planning to go to St Thomas on May this year but Im a bit scared. I travelled 2 years ago to San Juan, PR with only my driver’s license and was perfectly fine with no complications.

    HELP!

    Thanks!!

    Claudia

  29. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Claudia,

    St. Thomas is still the US, so you aren’t leaving the country. However, given the gravity of your situation, I would double-check with US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Call 1-800-375-5283 and they should be able to help you.

  30. Christian Koi

    U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR’s) who travel directly between parts of the United States, which includes Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), without touching at a foreign port or place, are not required to present a valid U.S. Passport or U.S. Green Card. However, it is recommended that travelers bring a government issued photo ID and copy of birth certificate.

    Hawaii is a U.S. state and therefore passport documentation requirements do not apply.

    Questions about requirements for domestic travel should be directed to Transportation Security Administration (TSA). TSA can be reached at 1-866-289-9673.

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