Passport Requirements for Cruises

Passport Requirements for Cruises
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Onboard and set sail, your cruise vacation is about to leave the port! Have you first checked the cruise document requirements? You might be wondering “do I need a passport to go on a cruise?” or “what are passport requirements for cruises?”. Stop sailing around, we have here the answers you need. 

Cruise documents requirements depend on the type of cruise vacation you are embarking on. Remember, you will always need proof of identification regardless of the vacation you choose, but requirements might differ between:

  • Closed-loop cruise,
  • International cruise.

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What is a closed loop cruise?

A closed-loop cruise is a cruise that departs from a specific US port and returns to the same US port. This means that if your cruise sails from Miami, it will need to return to Miami and not another port in the United States. It is not important, if shore excursions are planned, you can join them! But departure and arrival ports need to be the same.

If plans change and you disembark in another city, it will no longer be considered a closed-loop cruise, but an international cruise.

What does this concern with document requirements?

The United States does not require closed-loop cruise passengers to present a passport, but they will need to provide other proofs of identification:

  • An enhanced driver’s license (EDL) or government-issued ID card;
  • A government-issued birth certificate or certificate of citizenship;
  • A legal proof of name change (ex. marriage certificate), if your name changed since your birth certificate was issued.

In case of international cruises, that is cruises that depart and arrive at two distinct US ports, a passport is mandatory and it is the only form of identification accepted.

If you want to buy a last-minute deal on a cruise and do not already have a passport, a closed-loop cruise is the best option. As a consequence, a closed-loop cruise is a perfect solution for those who do not have or do not have enough time to replace their passport.

Find out more about passports from these articles:

Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?

So, if you are still not sure if you need a passport to go on a cruise, here is the answer. As we have seen, it is not strictly necessary depending on the type of cruise vacation you choose. Nonetheless, it is always highly recommended to carry a valid passport with an actual photo.

Why is that?

First of all, a passport is the most significant official document for traveling abroad. A passport is your world getaway and you must take good care of that. It is the most important identification type and it identifies you as a resident of a certain nation.

It plays two vital roles. It offers you the ability to move abroad, but it is also the key to return home. Having a passport while abroad, will help you easily overcome any inconveniences that might happen:

  • Some cruise companies might request that you present a valid passport even if you booked a closed-loop cruise;
  • Some Caribbean Islands request passengers to present a passport to enter their country;
  • A personal or medical emergency that needs you to fly back to the USA urgently;
  • If you miss the scheduled departure from the US or during a shore trip and you need to take a flight to meet your ship at the next port;
  • Your ship docks at a different port;
  • Your cruise ship gets damaged and you are forced to go ashore or fly back home.

In such cases, a birth certificate and an EDL will not be enough to grant you an easy journey back home. EDL specifically gives you the right to re-enter the US only by land or sea from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean, not by air. If you need to fly back home, an enhanced driver license will not be enough.

To be on the safe side, always choose to carry a passport with you on your cruise vacation and remember to book in advance. Currently, the US Department of State informs on its official website that passport processing times last about 10-12 weeks or 4-6 weeks if you pay an additional fee for an expedited passport.

To be sure that you will not encounter any further delay during the application process, check the passport and passport photo requirements on our website and start the procedures as soon as possible.

To be sure, the application process is not delayed by any inconvenience related to the picture you need to provide, use our passport photo editor to create the picture. It will take you just a few minutes. 

Passport card for cruise

In the previous paragraph, we highly advised that you carry a valid passport on your cruise vacation. It is necessary to mention that we always referred to passport books when talking about passport requirements.

But how does the passport card stand compared to the passport book for a cruise?

As for the passport book, the passport card is a state-issued document that serves as proof of identity and citizenship. Nonetheless, the passport card has limited validity. The passport card allows entry to the USA by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda and it can be used as valid proof of identification in such countries.

It was designed as an official, low-cost alternative to passport books for communities living on the north and south borders of the United States. It works similar to an EDL, but we advise that you check the US Department of State website in which countries specifically you can use an EDL or passport card.

Where can I cruise without a passport?

To sum up, having a passport book is the best and safest option. If you are still convinced that you do not want to apply or renew your passport and you prefer a low-cost ID solution, you can still have your cruise vacation under a few conditions:

  • It needs to be a closed-loop cruise;
  • The cruise ship cannot stop at foreign ports that require that you present a passport (check your cruise itinerary carefully!);
  • You can reenter the United States only by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

For more information regarding passports or visas, we invite you to check out Passport Photo Online where you can find more useful information about every official document in the world. 

Information on passport requirements for cruises


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