Do You Need a Passport to Go to the Caribbean?
By Alison Kroulek
Changing passport regulations confuse many travelers to the Caribbean. How do you know if you need a US passport or not?
Since June of 2009, most US citizens traveling to the Caribbean have needed a US passport to travel. However, there are some exceptions, so let's take a look at the requirements in a little bit more detail.
Where Are Passports Required?
If you are traveling to Puerto Rico or to the US Virgin Islands, you do not need a passport at all because these islands are US territories. If you are traveling to any other Caribbean countries, you will probably need to apply for a passport before your trip. However, whether or not a passport is required depends on how you are traveling.
If You Are Traveling by Plane
If you are traveling to the Caribbean by plane, you are required to have a US passport book. There are no exceptions for air travelers, and even an infant is required to have his or her own passport.
If You Are Traveling by Sea
In most cases, US citizens traveling to the Caribbean by sea need at least one of the following documents to re-enter the US:
A US passport book
A NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST card
An enhanced driver's license with an RFID chip (only available in certain states)
However, there are a few exceptions. First, children under the age of 16 traveling by sea can use their birth certificates to re-enter the country. Second, children under the age of 19 traveling by sea with a school group, church group, sports team or cultural organization can also use their birth certificates, provided that the group is traveling under adult supervision.
Third, passengers on closed-loop cruises, cruises that begin and end at the same US port, can re-enter the country with a government-issued photo ID and a birth certificate.
Alison Kroulek is a freelance writer and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.