If you want to travel outside of the U.S., but your passport has expired or you just don’t want to have to go through customs, you’re in luck! There are many tropical, exotic, and unique places you can go to, even without a U.S. passport. These countries will let you visit using an alternate form of ID, and you get to skip the long lines and hassle of going through customs at the airport. So, if you are planning an international vacation, you might want to consider one of these locations. Especially if you don’t have a valid passport. The passport application process can take quite a long time, and if your trip is coming up soon, you might not have time to get one.
We’re going to show you which countries you can visit without a US passport. However, first we’ll explain a few facts about passports themselves.
Passport books vs. passport cards
Applications for passport books can take several weeks to process, and during especially busy times, they can take several months. However, if you are traveling relatively soon, it might not be too late to get a passport card. Application processing times for passport cards tend to be shorter than for books. Depending on where you are traveling, a passport card may be sufficient. However, its important to double-check and make sure that you have the right documents for your trip well in advance.
- Passport card: a credit card-sized passport that can be used for reentry into the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.
- Passport book: a full-sized passport that must be used for international travel by any method, anywhere that requires visa waivers, visas, or travel authorizations.
If you don’t want to get either, or just don’t have time to apply, there are several countries you can visit using one of these government-issued IDs that you probably already have:
Where Can U.S. Citizens Travel Without a Passport?
If you have an Enhanced Driver’s License, a passport card, or a certified copy of your U.S. birth certificate, you can travel to:
- All 50 US states, including Hawaii and Alaska
- The Bahamas
- Puerto Rico
- US Virgin Islands: Saint Thomas, Saint John, and Saint Croix
- American Samoa
- Swains Island
- The Northern Mariana Islands
You can also go on a “closed-loop” cruise and visit several countries without a passport. A closed-loop cruise is one that leaves from and returns to the same port. You can sail without a passport on nearly every closed loop cruise departing from the U.S.
Instead of a passport, you can use your government-issued ID for re-entry into the U.S., for example, an enhanced driver’s license or a certified copy of your U.S. birth certificate.
However, some closed-loop cruises may stop in countries that require a passport for entry, such as Cuba. While you can still go on the cruise without a passport, you will not be able to enter the countries where a passport is required.
So, before you book your closed-loop cruise,you should make sure that particular cruise does not require passengers to have passports and does not stop at any ports where a passport is required to enter.
Can I Go Anywhere in the United States Without a Passport?
Without a passport, U.S. citizens can travel to all of the 48 continental states by any means of travel, and you can also travel to Hawaii or Alaska by ship or plane.
However, If you fly to Alaska without a passport, you must take a flight that does not stop in Canada. If you plan to drive, go by train, or take a flight that has a layover in Canada, you will need a valid passport or WHTI document.
Which U.S. Territories Can You Visit Without a Passport?
There are 14 U.S. territories at this time, and 5 are inhabited and do not require a passport to enter.
You can travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, or to American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Puerto Rico has beautiful beaches, a beautiful climate year-round, and numerous opportunities for relaxing or adventure. You can take a kayaking trip, visit the Castillo San Felipe del Morro (a UNESCO World Heritage site), go ziplining in the rainforest, or just relax on the beach.
If the Caribbean sounds nice, you can also visit the United States Virgin Islands. The territory consists of 3 main islands and multiple smaller isles and is famous for its diving, tropical landscapes, and bustling shopping centers.
Two other options are the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, Micronesian islands located in the western Pacific Ocean. They are favorites for adventurous travelers and offer numerous ways to explore the extensive marine life, including snorkeling and deep-sea diving. They are also known for their gorgeous landscapes.
If you are looking for something a little more unique, you may want to visit the volcanic islands of American Samoa, between Fiji and the Cook Islands. You can explore the vibrant coral reefs, unique volcanic coastlines, and remote beaches, then take a break to sample the delicious local seafood.
Can You Travel to Canada and Mexico Without a Passport?
Only U.S. minors under the age of 16 are allowed to travel without a passport to Mexico and Canada by land. But, they will need a certified copy of their birth certificate in order to reenter the U.S.
However, U.S. citizens of any age must have a valid U.S. passport or another document approved by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) to fly to either of these countries. WHTI documents include a:
- Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry, or FAST)
- Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL)
Wherever you decide to take your next vacation, it’s important to order a certified copy of your birth certificate and make sure you have your EDL on hand. Either of these documents gives you access to numerous fantastic locations, without a U.S. passport.