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Do I Need a Passport to go to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean?

Travel requirements have been changing so quickly, it can be hard to keep track of what documents are required to go where. However, it’s important to stay up-to-date, since not having the correct paperwork can derail your trip!  One of the common questions about travel requirements involves travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean, countries covered under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

Do you need a passport for travel to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean? Currently, it depends on how you are traveling. If you travel by plane, you have to have a valid US passport to travel from the US to any of these countries. However, if you are driving or traveling by sea, you just need to carry proof of identity (like a driver’s license) and proof of citizenship (such as your birth certificate).  No matter what method of travel you choose, it’s still a good idea to get a passport if you are leaving the country. What if you have an emergency and you need to fly back home? When it comes to foreign travel, it’s always a good idea to think like a Boy Scout!

Also, on June 1, 2009, the travel requirements are changing again. On this day, the final phase of the WHTI will go into effect, and land and sea travelers will also be required to have a passport to travel to Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean. The only exceptions are people who have other types of WHTI-compliant identification (such as the Enhanced Driver’s Licenses offered in some states) and children under the age of 16. A passport will still be required for all international air travel.

If you need to get a new passport quickly, consider using the services of a private expediting company. An expediting company can cut through the red tape to help you get your passport quickly and easily, in as little as 24 hours!

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26 Responses to “Do I Need a Passport to go to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean?”

  1. carla reed

    what kind of approval do i need know get into canada? i,m leaving the usa in the month of may, how soon can i get a passport?

  2. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Carla,

    Thanks for commenting! Currently, if you’re traveling by land or sea, all you need is state-issued photo ID (like a driver’s license) and proof of citizenship (like your birth certificate). If you’re flying, you do need a passport. After June 1st, you’ll need a passport to go to Canada no matter what. This page will give you more information on the changing requirements:

    If your trip will keep you in Canada past the June 1st deadline, you will need a passport to travel even if you are traveling by land or sea. It’s best to allow about 6 weeks to get your passport unless you expedite it. can get your passport for you in 8 days or less, depending on what option you choose. You can review our services and pricing here:

  3. Do I Need a US Passport? - Blog

    […] If you are traveling outside of the US, you probably need a passport. This is even true if you are traveling to Canada or Mexico,  where passports were not required until recently. For more on travel regulations to our nearest neighbors, see this post on passport requirements in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. […]

  4. - Blog

    […] If you’re planning on traveling outside the US with an expired passport, you’re out of luck.  A valid US passport is required for international travel. The only exception to this rule is if you’re traveling by land or sea to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. In that case, you’ll be able to get by with your photo ID and a birth certificate until June 1st.  After that, the rules change, and you’ll need a valid passport. For more information, see “Do I Need a Passport to Go to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean?” […]

  5. New Passport Rules Don’t Slow Border Traffic - Blog

    […] The new regulations require that American citizens returning from Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean show a US passport, US passport card, or other approved ID to reenter the country. There are some exceptions for children and certain cruise passengers.  For more on the new regulations, see Do I Need a Passport For Travel To Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean? […]

  6. marlyn

    do i need a passport to go to mexico i am only 15

  7. oscar milan

    can i travel to mexico with proof of passport
    applications after june 1st

  8. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Oscar,

    No, you will need your US passport or a passport card, not just proof of application.

  9. Karen

    Just won tickets to Aero Smith and ZZ Top for Friday Aug 6th in Winnipeg. My passport is expired and my boyfriend doesn’t have one. Are we out of luck? 🙁

  10. Angel Salinas

    I have an infant child what will be 2 months at time of travel. My husband is currently in Mexico, which is where we will be traveling. The Mexican Embassy has told me that she does NOT need a passport to enter into the country, she will only need her birth certificate and gov’t ID. The American Embassy in Mexico has told me that once she gets to Mexico, they can issue her passport there (with supporting documentation, of course). So therefore she will be LEAVING the US w/o a passport, but she will be ENTERING the US in a couple months WITH a US passport. Why is it that I cannot find a single website that supports what both embassies have told me? I need to find something “government” so “just in case” it is needed when we are boarding the airplane, I will have proof. Because it seems that EVERYTHING that I am finding is stating that in order to leave the US you need a passport. What about those people who are never planning on returning the US? Why would they need a passport to leave? Or in my case, leaving without but returning with??

  11. Lenny Severino

    Can you Travel too the Dominican Republic Wih a Expired Passport
    And Renew It in the Dominican Republic.

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  13. Peterz

    Of course, what a great site and informative posts, I will add backlink


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  15. homebrew games

    I gotta to say I agree with the majority of what is being said here. I’m gonna have to have to snatch the feed so I can keep tabs. on what is going on here.

  16. Noemi Rodriguez

    Question..we want to go Mexico tomorrow one of my friend has a passport but it is expired is it possible for her to return with the expired one? (if she takes a school id, birth certificate, along with the expired passport).

  17. Laptop Fix

    I was googling just this topic when I came across your blog. So much excellent information you have here!

  18. Alfred

    Hi I have an expired passport from my homeland country which is expired but have recently renewed it and have a certificate of renewal at hand. I’m traveling to Canada in 2 weeks and I asked my embassy if I can go to Canada, they said that I can use my certificate of renewal along with my green card. Is that possible or did they just pulled a fast one on me to get me out of there as fast as they could?

  19. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Alfred,

    I would call the Canadian Embassy and ask. Their number is (202) 682-1740.

  20. Jocuri tari

    Where’s your facebook page ?I’d like to like it.

  21. zozooo

    I am traveling to mexico tomorrow with my 6 yrs old son with expired passport. Does it any way to get 24 hrs instead of wating around since he is minor or any other way?
    btw, also another friend of mine lost her kid’s passport in Mexico, how can she help him to reapply before they head back to US??? thanks

  22. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Zozooo,

    If you’re flying, you’re out of luck, but if you’re driving you should be okay with just a copy of his birth certificate. Your friend just needs to go to the nearest US Embassy with her son; they can help her there.

  23. I luv my kids

    Ok since they need permission from mom and dad to get out a passport what am i to do if my kids dad is in jail and gonna get deported.

  24. Alison Kroulek


    It depends partially on your custody status- if you have sole custody, just bring proof that you have been awarded sole custody of the kids and it will be fine. If you don’t have sole custody and can’t get notarized permission from him, include a notarized statement by you explaining why obtaining his permission is not possible. Good luck!

  25. Ivan Arellano

    I will be traveling to Mexico tomorrow. Can i just travel with the reciept showing that i am just waiting for my passport?

  26. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Ivan,

    That’s not possible if you’re traveling by plane, and not recommended if you’re traveling by car. For air travel, you need a passport book. For land travel you need a passport book or a card, an enhanced driver’s license, or a trusted traveler card from NEXUS, FAST or SENTRI. Hope this helps!

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