Are Passports required or will a birth certificate work on short cruises?

There continues to be lots of confusion on the travel requirements for U.S. citizens thinking about taking short cruises. The initial plan in 2007 was to require all US Citizens leaving the country to have in their possession a valid passport. This was to become effective in 2008 but was postponed because ~~the public had not had enough fore warning~~ and was delayed until early 2009 then delayed again delayed until mid-year at which time after two years of uncertainty a compromise was made.

Passports are recommended for all US Citizens departing the US however that final June 2009 government ruling allowed exemptions for US citizens travelling on “closed-loop” a cruise, that’s where all the confusion begins. They state passports are required and then further down in the text they begin trying to explain. I will attempt to make it easier to understand.

Passports are recommended but not required on most cruises from Port Canaveral, and other Florida ports, several east coast, and some California ports and Seattle departures.

US Citizens on “closed-loop” sailings may present instead as proof of citizenship one of the following

  • an original or certified copy of a birth certificate,
  •  certificate of naturalization,
  •  passport card,
  •  enhanced driver’s license (EDL)

>>>PLUS a government-issued photo ID if age 16 and over<<<.

Closed-loop examples:

  • Port Canaveral, Ft Lauderdale and Miami roundtrip to Bahamas and/or Caribbean
  • San Juan roundtrip to Southern Caribbean
  • Seattle roundtrip to Alaska
  • New York roundtrip to Bermuda

Passports are required If the cruise

  • begins and ends in different U.S. ports
  • begins and ends in a foreign port (such as many of the Alaska and Hawaii cruises), a valid passport or other recognized WHTI-compliant document is required.
  • you are traveling on any cruises that travel outside the WHTI region i.e., European, Trans Canal, Trans-Atlantic, South American, South Pacific even though on rare occasions they may be roundtrip.

Although a passport is not required for U.S. citizens taking “closed loop” cruises, we strongly recommend all passengers travel with a passport (valid for at least six months beyond completion of travel). Having a passport will enable you to fly from the U.S. to a foreign port in the event you miss your scheduled embarkation or to fly back to the U.S. if you are unable to return with the ship.

ALL passengers, including infants need proper proof of citizenship in order to travel and failure to present a valid document at check in will result in denied boarding and no refunds will be issued. Some cruise lines may elect the more restrictive Passport required policy for their protection. Our office recommends passport when leaving the country and can advise if an alternative proof of citizenship is allowable for US citizens during the initial inquiry and/or booking process.

~~~~AIR departures from the US ALL REQUIRE a valid Passport (not a Passport Card) regardless of the destination~~~~

EVERYONE must have proper proof of citizenship regardless of age, including infants.

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