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Passport Requirements for Cruises

Passport Requirements for Cruises

Do you need a passport to go on a cruise? Passport requirements for cruises depend on where you are going.  If your boat only stops at US ports, then no passport is necessary.  If you are cruising outside of the Western Hemisphere, you definitely need a passport.

However, as of June 1, 2009, if you are cruising from the US to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean, US Citizens are required to present one of the following documents to re-enter the country:

  • A US passport book
  • A US passport card (Note: Unlike the US passport book, the US passport card is not valid for air travel)
  • A NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST card
  • An enhanced driver’s license (only available in certain states)

There are a few exceptions for cruises in the Western Hemisphere:

  • US citizens on a closed-loop cruise, one that begins and ends at the same US port, can use a driver’s license or government-issued ID card and a birth certificate, certificate of naturalization or certificate of citizenship.
  • Children under the age of 16 traveling by land or sea can use their birth certificates, as can children under the age of 19 if they are under adult supervision and are traveling with an organization such as a school group, church group, volunteer organization or sports team.

However, most cruise lines strongly recommend that all guests travel with a valid US passport during their cruises for a couple of important reasons:

  • If you have a medical, family, personal or business emergency and need to fly back to the U.S. before your cruise ends a passport is required or you could experience significant delays and complications. See Why You Should Consider Getting a Passport for a Closed-Loop Cruise
  • If you need to fly to meet your ship at the next available port should you miss your scheduled embarkation in a U.S. port or if you miss a ship’s departure from a port of call.
  • Some ports may have their own entry requirements. Talk to your cruise line to confirm the documents you need for your cruise.

Also, here are some additional articles about passport requirements for different cruise destinations:

Do You Need a Passport To Go To Mexico?

Do You Need a Passport to Go to Canada?

Do you Need a Passport to Go to the Caribbean?

No matter where you’re cruising to, RushMyPassport can help you get your passport in time. We personally deliver your passport application to the Department of State, resulting in processing times as low as 24 hours.

Apply for your passport today!Don’t let your ship sail without you-apply for your passport today!

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100 Responses to “Passport Requirements for Cruises”

  1. Victoria

    Hi, Im going on a 3 day cruise to Mexico in 2 weeks. I DO have a passport, but do not have an ID. Will a passport suffice??? PLEASE HELP.

  2. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Victoria,

    Yes, you’ll be just fine with your passport! It serves as both ID and proof of citizenship. Enjoy your cruise!

  3. ngan

    I’m sure this has been asked and you have been graciously answering repeated questions:

    My hubby and I have passports. My two kids (4 and 7) do not. they only have birth certs. If we went on a cruise (closed loop) but wanted to disembark at each port city to do sightseeing, should i worry about my kids not being able to get back onto the ship? I know that getting a passports for them is the safest way, but if i can’t get the passports before the cruise start, how much should i worry about my kids?

  4. Cathy

    My husband and I are traveling on a closed loop cruise to the Bahamas in a few days. He is a naturalized citizen and cannot find his original naturalization certificate. He still has his passport from his native country as they accept dual citizenship. I spoke to the cruise line and they said that as long as he doesn’t need a visa to get into the Bahamas from his native country (which he doesn’t) then he should be allowed on the cruise. I’m not sure that’s correct. Will he still be able to leave and re-enter NY without his naturalization certificate? (We have his drivers license, a copy (not certified) of his naturalization certificate, his social security card, our marriage license, and his valid passport from his native country.) The cruise line will not give us a definite answer as to what they will do once we arrive at the ship. The worst thing would be if we got on and then he wasn’t able to get back home.

  5. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Cathy,

    That’s a good question. The valid passport from his native country will get him into the Bahamas, but getting back into the US may be a hassle. Now, they actually can’t prevent a US citizen from re-entering the country once they verify citizenship, so if they let him on the ship he should be able to get back home- but he might be temporarily detained while they verify that he is in fact a citizen, since he needs a certified copy of his naturalization certificate for proof of citizenship and he won’t have one with him. And given that cruise lines aren’t supposed to let people on without the documents they need to get back into the US without problems, they may not let him on the ship at all.

    Has he ever had a US passport before? If so, he could get a replacement passport expedited without the naturalization certificate by including a Request for File Search Form with his application.

    Otherwise, I would call US Citizenship and Immigration Services and see what your options are: 1-800-375-5283

    I recommend that he go ahead and get a US passport once he gets his naturalization certificate replaced, as it also serves as proof of citizenship.

    Good luck to you both!

  6. wes

    i am deployed in afganistan right now and I’m about to go on leave april 1st. i wanna go on a 5day cruise from tampa to the cayman islands and cozumel. it is a closed loop cause i leave from tampa and return to tampa. do i need a passport?

  7. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Wes,

    You should be fine with a birth certificate and driver’s license, but please verify that with the cruise line as their requirements may differ. Thanks, and have a great trip!

  8. Nanda

    Hi, i just sent in for a passport renewal/name changed and going on a cruise to the Bahamas in April and need the passport # ,how do i get the number? ,i had to turn in the passport

  9. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Nanda,

    Call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778. They may be able to help. Have a great cruise!

  10. Monique

    We are going to Mexico in June, I have all our birth certificates and I.D.s . Do I still need passports for us? Leaving from Tampa and returning there 4 days. Thanks for your help.

    Regards
    Monique

  11. bowtie

    We are taking our son’s 16 year old friend with us on a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. He has a passport card. Do we need a notarized letter from his parents for him to get off and on in Cozumel?

    Thanks

  12. Erica

    Hi, I am going on a close loop cruise to the Bahamas with my boyfriend. He was born in Jamaica, but has recently become a U.S citizen. Can his Certificate of Naturalization be used instead of a Birth Certificate or a passport, or is he going to need a passport still?

  13. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Erica,

    Double-check this with your cruise line, please, but all he should need is photo ID and his Certificate of Naturalization for a closed-loop cruise. Definitely have him get a passport as soon as he can, though- it’s always good to have more than one way to prove your US citizenship.

    Have a great cruise!

    Alison

  14. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Bowtie,

    Yes, you should get a notarized letter from his parents. They may not ask for it, but it’s always a good thing to have when you’re traveling with an unrelated child, and Mexico does require it.

  15. Alison Kroulek

    If you’re going on a cruise with that itinerary, then no. You should be fine with just birth certificates and IDs. Have a great trip!

  16. Debi Kay

    I am going on a 4 day cruise from San Pedro, California to Ensenada, Mexico. Are we required to have a passport to get off the ship in Ensenada?

    Thank you,

  17. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Debi,

    No, you’ll be fine with just your driver’s license and birth certificate. Have fun!

  18. mesig

    Hi,
    I am leaving on a cruise from Tampa and stopping in the Grand Caymans, and then Cozumel. We will then be returning to Tampa. Do I need a passport or can I get by with the other documents?

  19. Maria Konitshek

    Asking this question for a friend who is taking a closed loop cruise. She has the short form birth certificate (her parent’ names do not appear on her birth certificate. Can she use this or does she need the full certificate with her parents’ names? My understanding is that as long as it has a raised seal, either type of birth certificate will work.

  20. Maria Konitshek

    sorry about the double post.

  21. Alison Kroulek

    No problem, Maria! As long as it has the raised seal, she should be fine, but I’d recommend contacting the cruise line to verify as they have final authority over whether or not she gets on the boat.

  22. Alison Kroulek

    You should be fine with a certified copy of your birth certificate (the kind with a raised seal) but please contact your cruise line to verify. Thanks!

  23. Lei

    My boyfriend and I would like to take a closed loop cruise leaving from Galveston and returning to Galveston. I have a passport, but my boyfriend does not. He does have a valid ID and birth certificate, but he is not a US Citizen. He was born in American Samoa (a US territory in the South Pacific) and he is technically a US National, will there be any problem with him going on the cruise or does he need a passport?

  24. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Lei,

    He should be fine, but check with the cruise line just to be sure he won’t have any problems boarding. Have a great trip!

  25. Kellie

    Hi, I am taking a Pacific Coastal cruise from Vancouver, Canada to Los Angeles, CA. I have a passport card, do I need to get an actual passport too? Thanks!

  26. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Kellie,

    Are you a US citizen or Canadian? If you’re a US citizen flying into Vancouver to start the cruise, then yes, you’ll need a passport to get on the plane. If you’re not flying into Canada, a passport card is fine.

  27. Michelle

    hello,

    I am planing a trip…closed loop cruise from Florida to the Bahamas 5 day cruise… active duty military. 2 adults 3 kids do we need a passport?? or is our military id and birth certificates ok

  28. sasha

    hi I’m planing to go on a cruise with my husband departing from Los Angeles but we want to get off the boat and stay in panama. is it possible to do this?. thanks

  29. Alison Kroulek

    Michelle,

    For a closed-loop cruise, government-issued photo ID and birth certificates are generally all that’s required, however please contact your cruise line to verify. Have a great trip!

  30. Alison Kroulek

    Sasha,

    That sounds like a question for your cruise line. Or are you asking whether or not you’d need a passport? If so, the answer is more than likely yes. According to the State Department: “U.S. citizens traveling by air, road, or sea must present a valid passport when entering or departing Panama.” See here for more details: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_994.html

  31. mary

    My husband and I and another couple are going on a cruise leaving from Galveston to Cozmel and returning to Galveston. I have gotten conflicting answers about a passport. We all 4 have B. Certificates, and valid D.Licenses, is that all we will need? One man said he saw the man sitting there to let you back on the boat would not let a woman back on the boat, they have me so nervice I said I might just stay on the boat.Could you please clear this up we will be leaving in a 5 days, to late for a passport anyway. Thank You

  32. mary

    My husband and I and another couple are going to cozmel leaving from galveston and returning to cozmel we have been told we do need a passport to get back on the boat at mexico port, and we do not if coming back to galveston, could you please give us a correct answer. thank you

  33. Kerri Kaufmann

    Hi Mary,

    You’re on a closed-loop cruise, so you should be fine with driver’s licenses and birth certificates. However, you may want to contact your cruise line and check just to be on the safe side, since they have final authority over whether or not you get on board. Have a great cruise!

    Alison

  34. Taylor

    Hi! My husband and I are planning on taking our honeymoon on a cruise at the end of November. Its a 7 night cruise to belize, honduras, cozumel, caymen islands and key west. It is closed loop from and to miami. Do we need to get passports or passport card to go or is birth certificate and id okay?? thanks (:

  35. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Taylor,

    You should be okay with a birth certificate and ID, but please contact your cruise line to verify as they have the final authority over whether or not you board. 🙂

    Have a great trip!

  36. Swendor

    Mostly everyone who posted asked about cruises which have ports of call. However, I’d like to go on a cruise to nowhere-leaves NY, goes out in the ocean for two nights and goes back to NY. Is a driver’s license sufficient or do I need a birth certificate as well?

    Thank you.

  37. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Swendor,

    Please check with your cruise line to see what’s required. Enjoy your trip!

  38. Swendor

    Norwegian says only a state-issued driver’s license is required for cruises to nowhere.

  39. Juan Chavez

    I’m planning on going on a cruise that departs from Galveston and stops to Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico before returning to Galveston. Do I need a passport.

  40. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Juan,

    You should be fine with a driver’s license and birth certificate or naturalization certificate, but do check with your cruise line just to be sure. Have a great trip!

  41. Jason Stokes

    I am planning to take a honeymoon cruise with my fiance from Miami, that travels to Nassau, Bahamas, Cococay (Cruiseline Private Island). I am a US citizen and have my birth certificate and Government ID. My fiance is a Legal Permanent Resident of the United States from Hati and has a social security card and Government ID. Can she travel on this closed loop cruise that returns to Miami without a passport.

  42. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Jason,

    She won’t need a passport to get back into the US, she’ll just need her green card.

    However, per the Bahamas Embassy website (http://www.un.int/bahamas/tourist%20visa%20info.htm) she will need a valid passport from her country of origin to get into the Bahamas. Hope this helps!

  43. Mandy

    Hi, We want to take a 4 day cruise to Mexico in 2 weeks, departing and arriving in the same Los angeles port. My Mom has a British Birth certificate. She is a a US citizen but her passport expired in February. What documents are acceptable for her since she does not have a US birth certificate? Does she need a valid passport to travel?

  44. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Mandy,

    As long as she has her naturalization certificate, she can use that as proof of citizenship along with a driver’s license or state ID card. Have a great cruise!

    Alison

  45. chelsea camfferman

    Hey, i’m going on the carnival breeze in 29 days for 6 days and i dont have a passport but we are leaving from Miami and returning back to Miami, I know I dont need a passport?? but will i need one to get off the ship in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Grand turk???? PLEASEE help me!!!

  46. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Chelsea,

    You should be fine with a driver’s license or state ID card and a birth certificate, but please contact your cruise line to be sure.

  47. karina

    I’m pretty sure I can answer my question by reading all the other comments but I am wondering if I’m going to have any problems when going on my cruise by taking my permanent resident card and my Mexican passport because I’ve lost weight so I don’t look as chubby and in my passport my hair was red and its dark brown now. should I bring some other from of documentation so they know that it is really me even if I have changed a little or would I be ok?

  48. Danielle

    My hubby and I have passports. My two kids (4 and 7) do not. they only have birth certs. If we went on a cruise (closed loop) but wanted to disembark at each port city to do sightseeing, should i worry about my kids not being able to get back onto the ship? I know that getting a passports for them is the safest way, but if i can’t get the passports before the cruise start, how much should i worry about my kids? We want to go on an excursion to the British Virgin Islands will the kids need a passport?

  49. Tiffany F

    We are going on a seven day cruise I have a passport but my husband doesn’t does he need one for these ports?? Cozumel Mexico, Belize, mohagany bay isla roaton, and costa maya Mexico or will the ID/ birth certificate be ok??

  50. Thomas G

    I plan on going on a cruise out of Galveston, TX. I am a US citizen but my wife is a citizen of Mexico. I want to go to Cozumel and Belize.
    Does my wife need a passport from Mexico to re- enter or does she just need to use her green card.

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